It's the end of January, and for us, that means Mardi Gras season is officially upon us! That may seem early for many of you, since Mardi Gras this year isn't until February 21st, but believe us when we say that, down on the Coast, we love to get things started as soon as possible!
With how much we talk about Mardi Gras, there may be plenty of you wondering what the big deal is. Maybe it’s because you live in an area that doesn’t go as all-out for Mardi Gras as we do, or maybe you’re even in an area that doesn’t celebrate Mardi Gras at all! Ever wanted to get in on the festivities yourself? We’ve got you covered with our handy guide for Mardi Gras first timers!
First things first, a brief history. Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday) has a history that traces all the way back to medieval Europe, where early renditions of the holiday known as “Boeuf Gras” (or fatted calf) were celebrated everywhere from Italy to France. The first true Mardi Gras celebration actually occurred in Mobile, Alabama in 1703, and then the following year a secret society — the Masque de la Mobile (predecessors of today’s Mardi Gras krewes, or those who organize the festivities) — was established to carry on the tradition with parades. By the time New Orleans was officially established in 1718, Mardi Gras had become an openly celebrated festivity. Mardi Gras is as deeply engrained into Biloxi culture as shrimping. Although historical records indicate that Mardi Gras celebrations have occurred in Biloxi since at least the 1880s, the city’s first official Mardi Gras Carnival celebration occurred all the way back on March 3, 1908! The first King Bienville (later King D’Iberville)— chosen by the people of Biloxi— was John Carraway, with Blanche Picard as his Queen Ixolib (Biloxi spelled backwards). He was chosen for his high regard within the community and would set the standard for all chosen Kings to follow decades into the future. Today, Mardi Gras in Biloxi is a time for the city to go all-out in its celebrations, with parades through the heart of downtown Biloxi, cookouts, parties and more all taking place!
With that out of the way, you need to find a parade to go to! Check to see if your town or a city nearby is hosting Mardi Gras celebrations. If not, you can always come down to the Coast, we've got parades a plenty!
Can’t find any parades near you or don’t want to deal with going out? Not a problem! After all, Mardi Gras isn’t a place, it’s a feeling, one that can be celebrated anywhere: even from the comfort of your own home! Several news stations across the Coast, including Biloxi, livestream parades for anyone to watch — check out last year's livestream of one of Biloxi's most beloved parades: The Krewe of Neptune Parade! If you want to turn your home into Mardi Gras central, be sure to pick up some beads and other decorations to put up: purple, green and gold all the way!
Of course, what would all those decorations be without the perfect foods to go with them?
What would Mardi Gras be without King Cake? Perhaps the most revered of all Mardi Gras foods, King Cake is an iconic aspect of Mardi Gras, and thankfully they’re easier to get than ever. If there isn’t a local bakery that sells them near you, you can have them baked and shipped to you anywhere in the country from a variety of retailers down South, like Paul's Pastry Shop in Picayune, Mississippi!
To top everything off, while just about any shrimp recipe is perfect for Mardi Gras, our personal pick for the best shrimp dish to make for Fat Tuesday has got to be shrimp jambalaya! One of the best things about jambalaya is that it's so easy to make it your own way. You can make things quick and easy with Zatarain's One Pot Jambalaya, or you can go with a homemade recipe! Here's one on us!
BILOXI SHRIMP JAMBALAYA
Click here to order mouthwatering wild-caught shrimp straight from the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico!