Enhance your cultural well-being during Mardi Gras

Thursday, February 24, 2022 Enhance your cultural well-being during Mardi Gras

Mardi gras mask, food and letters

By choosing to learn cultural and spiritual history of Mardi Gras, you can improve your personal well-being.

The holiday’s religious roots stem from Christians preparing for the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. The evening prior (on Tuesday) individuals would enjoy a last day of rich food and celebration before giving it up for 40 days.

A tradition on East Campus, the Mardi Gras lunch held on Fat Tuesday will feature gumbo, po boys, jambalaya pasta, fried chicken, collard greens, smoked gouda mac and cheese and more. Desserts will include mini king cakes, beignets and bananas foster. Students with a dining plan can attend free of charge; and guest pricing is available.

If you prefer to try making treats on your own, check out a few of the traditional Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday foods below:

  • Pancakes – In the UK, Mardi Gras is celebrated as Shrove Tuesday (also called Pancake Day). This stems from trying to use up all the butter, milk, and eggs left in the house to avoid them going to waste when fasting during Lent. Today, it is an excuse to enjoy pancakes or crepes.
  • Pączki – This Polish doughnut, sometimes called “kreppel” in other Eastern European countries, is a staple of Polish Fat Tuesday celebrations. Similar to Pancake Day, people prepared for Lent by using up any remaining fat and sugar to ensure it did not go to waste. You can typically find Pączki at local groceries stores if you would like to try this Polish-American tradition.
  • King Cake – Perhaps the most well-known Mardi Gras dish, King Cake is very popular in New Orleans but can be found in bakeries and grocery stores across the U.S. leading up to the holiday. King Cake is a sweet, yeasted dough, typically covered in purple, green, and gold decorations. A small plastic baby symbolizing Jesus is hidden inside the cake, and whoever finds the baby in their cake is king for the day, meaning they’ll have prosperity and luck.

Mardi Gras can be a time of many people coming together. If you travel to celebrate Mardi Gras at festivals such as Carnival or related parties, be sure to represent yourself and the university well. You can reduce negative impacts on those around you by doing the following:

  • Keep noise to a minimum – Avoid loud, disruptive levels of noise. Always be courteous during the day and take extra care at night when the people around you may be sleeping.
  • Appropriate costumes – For events such as Carnival, extravagant outfits are very common. Be sure any costume you select is appropriate for the occasion.
  • No nudity – While media may make it seem as though nudity is part of Mardi Gras culture, this is largely inaccurate. Avoid offending those around you and soliciting potential citations from law enforcement by remaining properly clothed in public.
  • Clean up trash – Make sure any cans, bottles, cups, wrappers, etc. from your gathering are cleaned up. It is easy for wind to pick these items up and carry them to a neighbor’s yard, or into nearby waterways.

Alcohol is not required to celebrate Mardi Gras, but if you choose to drink, consider the following:

  • Make a plan – Before heading out, discuss how you’ll get to your destination and how you'll gett home. Will you stay together as a group or split up later? Do you need to set your phone up to share your location with your friends?
  • Drink water – Hydrate before, during, and after your night out. Try drinking one cup of water after each alcoholic beverage you consume.
  • Eat food – Be sure to eat a meal with both protein and carbs before drinking. Having no food in your stomach speeds the body’s absorption of alcohol, which can be dangerous.
  • Know your drink – Make sure you know what is used to make your drink and where it came from. Ideally you should drink it directly from a can or bottle you opened, but if that is not possible, make sure you can see your drink being made.
  • Pay attention to your body – While you’re drinking pay attention to how you feel. It’s okay to slow down or stop drinking if you feel like you’ve had too much.

Whether you’re traveling to the French Quarter in New Orleans or enjoying a Pączki at home, challenge yourself to try something new during Mardi Gras this year.

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