Mardi Gras On the Beach!

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The king-cakeMardi Gras season is not just about debauchery, beads and parties, but also a time to celebrate community and loved ones. What you also may not know is that Mardi Gras has a rich history here on the gulf coast going all the way back to before the 1700’s.

Mardi Gras has been celebrated as a major holiday in France since the Middle Ages. Traditionally, in the days before Lent, Roman Catholic communities in Europe would have a “last hurrah,” consuming all the decadent food and drink in the house in preparation for Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, and the 40 days of penance and fasting leading up to Easter Sunday. The day just before Ash Wednesday came to be known as Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday.”

In 1699, French explorer, Pierre Le Moyne Sieur d’Iberville and his brother Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur established many forts along the gulf coast, bringing with them their French traditions. Among the areas they settled, such as Baton Rouge and Biloxi, they also established “Fort Louis de la Louisiane” (which is now modern day Mobile, Alabama). It is believed that in 1703 this settlement celebrated America’s very first Mardi Gras.

Since then, the Mardi Gras (or Carnival) season has been celebrated all along the Gulf Coast each year from The Feast of the Epiphany (or Kings Day) in early January until Mardi Gras. The celebrations are filled with king cakes, parties and parades to delight both young and old. There is no shortage of Mardi Gras fun happening here in Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, Alabama!

The weekend before Fat Tuesday is the most festive time to celebrate, and this year’s Mardi Gras is on Tuesday, February 17th. With Valentine’s Day falling on the Saturday before, and President’s Day being that Monday (many people having the day off), it’s a great excuse for a Gulf Shores beach vacation! Grab your valentine and come down for a long weekend, a week, or even two, and LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL!