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Please do not ruin Mardi Gras 2022 for us! Mardi Gras has been on life support lately. New Orleans hasn’t seen a Mardi Gras parade since February of 2020. With that, it is well known that the Mardi Gras holiday and season culminates around Fat Tuesday (“Mardi Gras” in French). And it is that one day of Tuesday parades that can be single-handedly ruined by one individual: he or she who eats King Cake before the season opens.
Keep in mind that you, yes you, can ruin Mardi Gras day for everyone by eating king cake before Twelfth Night! Doing so, which is an act of impatient greed, causes rain to fall on our parade — literally. While most people might dismiss the power of sugary, baked goods over a force of nature such as weather, this is New Orleans, and it is a very superstitious city with native rituals and beliefs.
Mardi Gras teaches us patience. Or maybe it’s Christmas? Regardless, the two holidays are bridged together by Twelfth Night.
So, what is Twelfth Night? Certainly, most of the world knows the song, “The 12 Days of Christmas”. The song is basically a countdown to the twelfth day after Christmas, thus “Twelfth Night.” Twelfth Night is observed on January 6th, the same day as the Feast of The Epiphany, which marks the day that the Three Wise Men visited the eight-pound, six-ounce newborn Baby Jesus.
This officially kicks off Mardi Gras season, which is when it becomes legal and safe to enjoy king cake. It is even said that the artificial baby in the king cake is a representation of the cuddly, yet omnipotent, baby Jesus who would agree that upon whomever shall receive him in his or her slice should be the bearer of king cake next Mardi Gras season. In other words, if you get a baby (or a bean) in your serving of king cake, you must buy and bring the king cake next year… or something like that.
Carnival Season in New Orleans
Thus, Twelfth Night is the kickoff of Carnival season in New Orleans, and merriment abounds all over the city. Masquerade balls, rambunctious streetcar rides down the St. Charles line and a Joan of Arc parade through the French Quarter heralds the arrival of Carnival. King cake is often eaten with great anticipation. While Mardi Gras is a “moveable holiday”, which culminates with the end of Fat Tuesday, the following day is always, always, always Ash Wednesday. Regardless, Twelfth Night is always the same observable day of January 6th every year. This next Mardi Gras, however, is a late Mardi Gras and will be held on March 1, 2022.
At the time of the writing of this blog, Twelfth Night is less than a month away. It is almost Mardi Gras! And there is much more fascinating history of Mardi Gras in conjunction with New Orleans and the state of Louisiana. Here at Cajun Encounters, we will do our part and “throw you something” in these and the weeks’ coming blogs.
Just remember, if you see a king cake anywhere, it doesn’t mean you have to eat it. Please, wait until Twelfth Night like a civilized adult, and do not cause it to rain on our Mardi Gras Day!