Mardi Gras Traditions What Mardi Gras Means to Us
W ith Valentine’s Day right around the corner, many are thinking of their loved ones, but during this time of year, we’re always excited for Mardi Gras! Mardi Gras is an important holiday in the Kahn household as it’s deeply rooted in our family traditions. The occasion is so much fun because of how happy everyone is. Whether it’s the food, the parades, the music, or the costumes, there is something for everyone to look forward to. Being a Houston area law firm, you may wonder why it’s so entrenched in our traditions. Well, before we answer that, let’s go back to the 1600s and look at how Mardi Gras began. It’s a common belief that Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday as it has long been known in France, came to fruition in America when French- Canadian explorer Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville settled 60 miles outside of what would become New Orleans in 1699. At the time, it was Fat Tuesday in France, so to celebrate, Iberville named the area Point du Mardi Gras and held a small party. Mardi Gras wasn’t celebrated in New Orleans until 1718 when the town was first established. In the early 1740s, the Louisiana governor established lavish grand balls that became
the model for the Mardi Gras balls celebrated today. In 1875, the governor signed the “Mardi Gras Act”making Fat Tuesday a legal holiday that continues today. The exact date of Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras season changes from year to year, but it always begins on Jan. 6, the date of the Feast of the Epiphany, and ends on Fat Tuesday, which is the day before Ash Wednesday and the first day of Lent. The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple, gold, and green. Purple stands for justice, gold for power, and green for faith. Since John grew up in New Orleans, the parades were a staple of his childhood. His family was highly involved with the Knights of Babylon organization. So, every Mardi Gras during the parades, John acted as one of the pages, and his grandfather was even “King of Babylon” one year. After the parades ended each year, everyone in the Knights of Babylon gathered for an elaborate party. Jennifer grew up in Baton Rouge, and her family ventured to New Orleans every year to see the parades. Her fondest memory is sitting on a ladder chair on the side of the street, watching the bands and parade floats passing by her yelling the traditional phrase “throw me something Mister!”Who knows, we could have been at the very same parades growing up!
To keep the traditions alive with our kids, we try to make Mardi Gras fun for them every year. We dress in fun Mardi Gras-themed shirts and hats as we watch the parades in New Orleans or Galveston. As the colorful floats pass us, our children have a great time trying to catch as many beads, doubloons, cups, and footballs as they can. In 2009, our oldest son was in the New Orleans paper, the Times Picayune, for saluting a military band as they passed us during the parade! Several years ago, we even organized a little Mardi Gras parade in the neighborhood for the kids! They all decorated their tricycles, wagons, and strollers with Mardi Gras streamers, beads, and other festive items. As we walked through the neighborhood for the parade to second line music and zydeco, the kids threw Mardi Gras beads out to the parents, and we ended the day with John’s famous homemade jambalaya. Does your family have any fun plans for Mardi Gras? If so, let us know the next time you’re in the office!
“Since John grew up in New Orleans, the parades were a staple of his childhood. His family was highly involved with the Knights of Babylon organization.”
-John & Jennifer Kahn
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