MARDI GRAS ONLY: Celebrating Mardi Gras with Seniors

People in their Golden Years know how to party! And many might just be looking for creative ways to do so.

Helpful Highlights

  • Carnival is a season, Mardi Gras is a day.

  • Mardi Gras celebration has a long and fascinating history.

  • The term "Krewe" (after the Greek god of fertility and eternal youth) is best known for its association with Mardi Gras celebrations and is a social organization that stages parades and/or balls for the Carnival season.

  • There are enriching benefits to celebrating Mardi Gras with your aging loved one(s) and many ways to do it.

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Fun facts

  • In French, Mardi is Tuesday and Gras is fat. Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday.

  • Mardi Gras tradition can be traced back to medieval Europe. Beginning in Italy and moving west to the French House of the Bourbons, it then followed France to her colonies.

  • The first Mardi Gras celebration in (the land that would become) the United States was in Mobile, Alabama in 1703 - founded as the first colonial capital of French Louisiana in 1702. It was known then as Fort Louis de la Louisiane.

  • Mardi Gras may indicate a specific day, but the celebration actually lasts from January 6 - the 12th night or the Feast of Epiphany, when Carnival kicks off after Christmas - until Fat Tuesday.

  • Mardi Gras became the celebration we know today because of a secret society called the Mistik Krewe of Comus. There are now more than 70 Krewes involved in Mardi Gras, some "old line Krewes" and some that have only been around for a few years, and each builds a float for the parade and throws party favors into the crowd.

  • It was in 1872 that Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanov Alexandrovich established the traditional colors of purple, gold, and green, and the traditional "currency" of beads.

  • 1872 was also the year that a group of businessmen, the Krewe of Rex, invented the King of Carnival (or King of Rex) to preside over the first daytime parade. Today, the King of Rex is presented with a symbolic key to the city.

  • Governor Henry Warmoth signed the Mardi Gras Act in 1875, making Fat Tuesday a legal holiday in Louisiana.

  • It is illegal to wear masks in New Orleans, except on Mardi Gras! (And they must be removed by 6:00 pm even on this day.)

  • The person who finds the baby in the King Cake must host the next big party.

Celebrating Mardi Gras with your aging loved one

If you're not making the trek to New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras, you can still make the most of this outrageously fabulous day wherever you live - and include your loved one. Here are several ideas:

  • Decorate (balloons, streamers, confetti, doubloons, noisemakers)

  • Make elaborate masks with piping, feathers, sequins, jewels, paint, and glitter

  • Make or buy costumes/costume pieces

  • Don't forget BEADS!

  • Create miniature floats (shoeboxes make a great base)

    • Note that the Krewe de Vieillesse has a float with the theme of celebrating age pride, and just as the Krewe of Rex selects a Carnival King, so too the Krewe de Vieillesse honors an older adult in the community

  • Play music by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and other favorite sounds heard in the streets of New Orleans during Mardi Gras, like brass bands, jazz, ragtime, Dixieland, and boogie-woogie blues or jump blues of Afro-Caribbean sound

  • Bake a King Cake (and include the baby!)

  • Cook classic Louisiana dishes like gumbo, muffuletta sandwiches, shrimp po'boys, jambalaya, beignets, and etouffee

  • Make drinks that are famous in New Orleans like the Sazerac, Hurricane, Southern Bourbon Milk Punch, Grasshopper, and Pimm's Cup (you can also find non-alcoholic recipes for these)

  • Invite family, friends, and neighbors to join in

    • Throw a street parade!

  • Take pictures

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