There are two things most often associated with New Orleans this time of year: Mardi Gras and King Cake. With the many spectacular krewes, parades and balls, the Big Easy does stand out out as one of the more notable celebrations worldwide.
A (Very) Brief History of Mardi Gras
According to History.com, the origins of Mardi Gras date back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility. When Christianity arrived in Rome, in 313 A.D., church leaders decided to combine these traditions into the new faith instead of getting rid of them altogether. (“If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” must have been their mindset.)
As a result, Mardi Gras, considered a season of excess and debauchery, became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Mardi Gras Day (referred to as Fat Tuesday) has a moveable date and can take place anywhere between February 3 to March 9. (This year, it takes place on Tuesday, February 13.)
When Mardi Gras first came to the United States — March 3, 1699 is the first recorded event — it didn’t take long before New Orleans became its epicenter.
Fast forward to today: Whether you prefer the lavishly adorned Fat Tuesday parades like Zulu and Rex or the more modest Elks and Crescent City parades where family and community groups turn flatbed trucks into Carnival floats, you can be sure a good time will be had by all.
Origin of the King Cake
Mardi Gras and King Cake go hand-in-hand, especially in New Orleans. However, its Middle Age origins in Old World France and Spain have it associated with Epiphany. When settlers brought it to the New World along with Catholicism and Christianity, the tradition evolved to include the Mardi Gras season.
Traditionally, a King Cake is an oval-shaped bakery delicacy (sort of a cross between a coffee cake and French pastry) decorated in purple, green and gold. History suggests these colors were chosen to resemble a jeweled crown honoring the Wise Men who visited the Christ Child on Epiphany.
A tiny plastic baby representing the Christ Child is often hidden inside the cake. At a party, when the King Cake is sliced and served, each person looks to see if their piece contains the baby. If so, that person is named “King” for a day and, bound by custom, has to host next year’s party and provide the King Cake.
Mardi Gras at Copeland’s
At our Copeland’s of New Orleans locations in Kennesaw and Atlanta, the annual celebration comes to Georgia in a big way. Mardi Gras carries special meaning here at Copeland’s due to our New Orleans roots. While we obviously can’t host a parade in our parking lot, we can do the next best thing: make you feel as if you’ve been transported to the heart of the Big Easy with a Fat Tuesday celebration that starts at 6 p.m. and doesn’t end until closing time.
We even have our own Copeland’s spin on the traditional King Cake. We adorn our famously decadent cheesecake with Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold to make them as festive as the season.
So, when you think of Mardi Gras this year, we hope Copeland’s comes to mind. If you’re in the Atlanta metro area and your plans don’t include heading to New Orleans, join us on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 13, at either of our locations for our blow-out celebration.
We will “laissez les bons temps rouler” as the French say — “Let the good times roll!”