By Molly Meredith
Signal Staff Writer
The celebration of Mardi Gras has been a part of cultures for centuries. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday,” which falls the day before Lent begins.
Fat Tuesday is known as the last day of eating rich and fatty foods. Mardi Gras’ origin lies in ancient pagan celebrations of spring and infertility. The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced all the way back to medieval Europe. Although the festival season is celebrated in many cities, New Orleans, Louisiana, is the most well-known.
The Mardi Gras period in New Orleans happens from the Twelfth Night (the last day of the Christmas period) until Ash Wednesday. The very first Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans was held in 1837. However, the first American celebration of Mardi Gras happened in 1699 near where New Orleans is now.
Mardi Gras is known for celebrating life. The most popular colors associated with Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold (yellow). These colors all have meaning as purple represents justice, green represents faith, and gold (yellow) represents power. Many people participate by wearing elaborate costumes and masks emulating these colors.
The traditional dessert associated with Mardi Gras is the King Cake. The cakes are fried, doughy, frosted and glazed in the traditional Mardi Gras colors. The dessert is braided and circular to resemble a crown. Many of these cakes have a small baby figurine inside and whoever finds it must host the next big party.
There are more than 70 secret societies involved in Mardi Gras activities. These societies are called “Krewes” and they create floats in their chosen theme, usually featuring a celebrity.
As Mardi Gras is commonly referred to as “Carnival,” the Krewe of Rex shopped a person of distinction every year as “King of the Carnival.” The King of Rex is presented with a symbolic key to the city.
Another tradition affiliated with Mardi Gras is the throwing of the beads. People throw plastic strings of beads from their balconies onto those watching the parade. This is a tradition that goes back to the 1800s.
Mardi Gras in the Santa Clarita Valley
Festivities to attend in Santa Clarita for Mardi Gras include:
• On Sunday, Feb. 26, from 7:30 to 11 a.m., there will be a 5k/10k held at the Westfield Valencia Town Center. This will be the 13th Annual Mardi Gras Madness 5k/10k and it will be hosted by UCLA Health, Santa Clarita Track Club and Westfield Valencia. There is also a 1k race available. “Come for the fun atmosphere or the post-race goodies,” says the event website. More information: runsignup.com/Race/CA/Valencia/MGM5K.
• Painting with a Twist is scheduled to hold a Mardi Gras Trivia Night on Feb. 21 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $39-$49 per person. More information: www.paintingwithatwist.com/studio/santa-clarita/event/3246750.