Mardi Gras is not only great fun, it's also delicious! What better way to celebrate Mardi Gras than with a traditional king cake! Did you know that the colors of purple, green and gold symbolize certain virtues and ideas? So, purple represents justice; green stands for faith; and gold for power. Not only that, the king cakes are shaped in an oval (or sometimes a circle) to represent the unity of faiths. Of course, Mardi Gras stems from Catholicism - (well, sort of) - and is a prevalent faith in Southwest Louisiana. 

History Lesson - A Blending of Ancient Traditions & Christian Faith
"According to historians, the celebration of Mardi Gras has its roots in the pagan Roman celebration of Lupercalia. This was a February holiday and it honored the Roman god of fertility. It involved feasting, drinking, and carnal behavior. However, with the rise of the Church in ancient Rome, Christian teaching and morals took root, but there always remained a strong need to blend ancient Roman traditional practices with the growing Christian faith. The blending of tradition with new religious beliefs was a common practice in the ancient world and it helped people to transition away from paganism. In fact, there are a number of ancient Roman traditions that persevere in the Roman Catholic Church to this day, where they continue to guide the faithful." - (source, Catholic.org)

Twelfth Night & The Epiphany
So, a blending of ancient and Catholic traditions is the root of Mardi Gras and where we get the Mardi Gras celebrations. Basically, twelve days after Jesus' birthday, Christmas, we have what is called "Twelfth Night" or the "Epiphany." Twelfth Night is technically January 5, but it is celebrated on January 6 in Louisiana as the Epiphany or the "Feast of the Three Kings" is commemorated on January 6 as represented as they day the three kings visited Jesus in Bethlehem. So, that's where the baby comes in for the king cake celebration! In olden days, people would hide a bean in the king cake to represent baby Jesus. In modern times, a plastic baby is hidden in the king cake. As tradition goes, from the Epiphany all the way to Mardi Gras Day, if you are the lucky one that gets the baby in your king cake, you are tasked with bringing a king cake to the next party! 

Ash Wednesday
The Wednesday following Mardi Gras Day is Ash Wednesday. People who walk in the Catholic faith receive ashes on their foreheads, usually in the shape of a cross, to symbolize death and regret for past sins. It's also the start of the Lent season which ends on Easter Sunday. Here's an easy reference for Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent. During this time in Southwest Louisiana, many Catholics as well as others of different walks of faith, often participate in Lent - a season of self-denial and sacrifice.

King Cakes & Where to Get Them!
That's a lot of information about King Cake! And, so, it's a tasty dessert with deep roots and a rich history. There are many bakeries, donut shops and grocery stores that sell King Cake, but it's usually during the Mardi Gras season - starting after the New Year through Mardi Gras Day. Many restaurants in town also serve dishes with a Mardi Gras twist - or King Cake flavored drinks. So, keep an eye out for some of the unique ways to take a taste of Mardi Gras while you are in Lake Charles!

The Bekery

Delicious Donuts

Cypi's Cake Box

Market Basket 

Try Your Hand at Baking!
If you are a baker at heart, you can also try your hand at baking a King Cake! Here's a recipe that will get you into the Mardi Gras spirit. Happy Baking!