Featured Slider

Today is Mardi Gras! The History of Mardi Gras, Ways to Celebrate, and a Traditional Recipe to Help You Celebrate!

Mardi Gras is celebrated this year on February 21st! Read on to learn more about this celebration!

The History of Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is a tradition that dates back thousands of years to pagan celebrations of spring and fertility, including the raucous Roman festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia.

When Christianity arrived in Rome, religious leaders decided to incorporate these popular local traditions into the new faith, an easier task than abolishing them altogether. As a result, the excess and debauchery of the Mardi Gras season became a prelude to Lent, the 40 days of fasting and penance between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday.   Along with Christianity, Mardi Gras spread from Rome to other European countries, including France, Germany, Spain, and England.

It is celebrated in France on Shrove Tuesday.  Shrove Tuesday is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which marks the close of the pre-Lenten season. Traditionally, in the days leading up to Lent, merrymakers would binge on all the rich, fatty foods—meat, eggs, milk, lard, and cheese—that remained in their homes, in preparation for several weeks of eating only fish and different types of fasting. The French name Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday, from the custom of using all the fats in the home before Lent in preparation for fasting and abstinence. 

In the United States, the principal Carnival celebration is in New Orleans, Louisiana. The Carnival season there opens on the Twelfth Night, which is Epiphany, on January 6th, and climaxes with the Mardi Gras festivities commencing 10 days before Shrove Tuesday. This period is filled with elaborate revelrous parades, both day and night, building up to Mardi Gras and the Rex parade. 

Beads of yellow, gold, green, and purple are commonly distributed. Why? In 1872, a group of businessmen invented a King of Carnival, Rex, to preside over the first daytime parade. To honor the visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff, the businessmen introduced Romanoff's family colors of purple, green, and gold as Carnival's official colors. Purple stands for justice; gold for power; and green for faith. This was also the Mardi Gras season that Carnival's improbable anthem, "If Ever I Cease to Love," was cemented, due in part to the Duke's fondness for the tune. The following year, floats began to be constructed entirely in New Orleans.

Here are a few ways to celebrate from National Today!

  1. Go to New Orleans
    Arguably one of the best and most famous Mardi Gras celebrations happens in New Orleans. Anyone will tell you Nola does it right. Enjoy the dancing, the explosion of colors, the food, and the fantastic music!

  1. Join a Mardi Gras dance group
    Have you seen those incredible dancers in the Mardi Gras parades? Would you like to learn how to do that? Well, you can! Dance groups are springing up all over the country. Amaze your friends with your awesome moves, and maybe end up in a local parade.

  1. Host your own Mardi Gras Party
    You know how to throw a party. But this time, you get to add riots of color. The more outrageous, the more ostentatious, the better your party will be. You really can't go wrong. Tell everyone to bring their craziest costume ever. They'll love the chance to set their imaginations free.

A Traditional Taste of the “Big Easy” for Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras King Cake

Recipe and Photo from House of Nash Eats

PREP TIME: 30 mins

COOK TIME: 25 mins


TOTAL TIME: 3 hrs 55 mins

COURSE: Dessert

CUISINE: American

SERVINGS: 20 servings

Enjoy this delicious homemade Mardi Gras King Cake this year and let the good times roll! Made with a sweet brioche dough and a cinnamon or cream cheese filling, this is the best king cake recipe and 1,000x better than anything you'll find in a grocery store or bakery! Heads up that this recipe makes TWO regular sized king cakes so you can enjoy one now and freeze one for later or share with friends.


  • KitchenAid Tilt-Head Stand Mixer

  • Parchment Paper Baking Sheets

  • baking sheets



  • 1 cup milk

  • ¼ cup salted butter

  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt

  • ⅔ cup warm water

  • ½ cup granulated sugar, divided

  • 1 Tablespoon active dry yeast

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 5 to 5 ½ cups all-purpose flour spooned & leveled (625g to 688g)

Full Batch Cinnamon Filling Option

  • ⅔ cup brown sugar

  • ⅓ cup granulated sugar

  • ½ cup all-purpose flour (68g)

  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted

Full Batch Cream Cheese Filling Option

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened

  • 2 cups powdered sugar

  • 2 Tablespoons salted butter, softened

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


  • 2 cups powdered sugar

  • 3 Tablespoons milk

  • 1 Tablespoon salted butter, melted

  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract



  • Heat milk and butter for 60-90 seconds in a microwave safe bowl. Add the salt, then set aside to cool until just warm (about 120° to 130°F).

  • In a separate bowl, combine the warm water, about 1 tablespoon of the sugar, and the yeast. Stir, then let it sit for 5-10 minutes until the yeast is foamy.

  • Once the yeast is foamy, add the milk and butter, the remaining sugar, eggs, vanilla, and 1 cup of the flour. Mix well, then continue adding flour while kneading with the dough hook attachment, 1 cup at a time. Only add the additional ½ cup of flour if the dough is really sticky. Knead for 5 minutes on medium speed or 8-10 minutes by hand to create a very soft dough that starts coming away from the sides of the bowl.

  • Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and knead a few times by hand until a smooth, round ball forms. Clean and lightly oil the bowl, then return the dough to the bowl, turning to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours until doubled in size.


  • For the cinnamon filling, combine the brown sugar, granulated sugar, flour, cinnamon and butter, mixing to combine. Set aside. Only use half of the amounts if you are only filling one king cake with this filling.

  • For the cream cheese filling, combine the softened cream cheese, powdered sugar, softened butter, and vanilla in a bowl. Beat well until smooth. Set aside. Only use half of the amounts if you are only filling one king cake with this filling.


  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

  • Once the dough has doubled in size, punch it down and divide in half. (Remember, this recipe makes TWO king cakes). Roll out one half of the dough into a large rectangle on a lightly floured surface, roughly 10x16-inches. Use a pizza cutter to divide the dough in half lengthwise to create two long rectangles.

  • Crumble the cinnamon filling or spread cream cheese filling evenly over the dough and roll up into two long cylinders, just like when making cinnamon rolls. Twist the two logs together into a rope braid, then transfer to the prepared baking sheet, shaping into an oval and pinching the ends together. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise for 30-45 minutes until puffy.

  • Preheat oven to 335°F while the king cake is rising. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and baked through. The cake should be done when it reaches 190° to 195°F on a digital thermometer inserted into the center of each loaf. Remove from oven and cool completely before frosting.


  • Beat the powdered sugar, milk, butter, lemon juice, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth. The frosting should be pourable but thick.

  • Stick a plastic baby figurine into each cake, pushing it down in to hide it. Drizzle the frosting over both king cakes, spreading it with a spatula if needed for good coverage. Sprinkle with the purple, green, and gold sugar while the frosting is still wet before it has a chance to set.

  • Slice and serve. Whoever gets the slice with the baby gets to be king or queen for the day!

NOTES from House of Nash Eats

  • Storage: King Cake is best served fresh the day it is made, but it will keep for 2-3 days on the counter at room temperature or up to 1 week in the fridge. Store it covered in an airtight container or with plastic wrap.

  • Freezing: You can freeze a finished King Cake for up 2-3 months. Wrap it well with plastic wrap to protect it and keep it stored in an airtight container. Let it thaw on the counter for 2-3 hours before serving.

  • Helpful tools: Use a pizza cutter to easily cut the dough in half. This can also be made without braiding by just rolling up one half of the dough as one thick log. You will also need a rolling pin for rolling out the dough and parchment paper for lining the baking sheets.

  • Instant Yeast: If using instant yeast, the recipe stays the same, but the steps are slightly different. Add the instant yeast to your mixing bowl with 3 cups of the flour and the sugar first. Stir together, then add the warm milk, water, melted butter, beaten eggs, vanilla, and salt, mixing with the paddle attachment until smooth. Then switch to the dough hook and add the remaining flour, proceeding as normal with the kneading until you have a soft, smooth dough. Let the dough rise for 1 hour in the fridge instead of the 1-2 hours on the counter until doubled in size.

  • Refrigerating the dough overnight: If you want to make your king cake in advance, but bake it fresh the day of, you can refrigerate the dough overnight instead of letting it rise on the counter. Then on the day you want to bake it, let it come to room temperature for an hour or two in the morning before rolling out and shaping like normal.

  • More filling ideas: Use the cream cheese filling with a can of strawberry, cherry, or blueberry pie filling. Or try filling with apple pie filling, german chocolate cake frosting, or whatever else you can think of!

  • Colored sugar: If you have a hard time finding the colored sugar, you can always order it online or make your own! All it takes is a few drops of food coloring and ½ cup of granulated sugar in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Just combine them in the jar and shake well until the sugar is evenly dyed. But I usually have no trouble finding my colored sugar at craft stores though like Joann's, Michael's, or Hobby Lobby.


Calories: 307kcal | Carbohydrates: 57g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 31mg | Sodium: 236mg | Potassium: 81mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 28g | Vitamin A: 206IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 35mg | Iron: 2mg



Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopaedia. "Mardi Gras". Encyclopedia Britannica, 20 Feb. 2023, https://www.britannica.com/topic/Mardi-Gras-carnival. Accessed 20 February 2023.

“Mardi Gras 1925.” Louisiana Digital Library, University of New Orleans: Digital Collection Ogden Museum of Southern Art, 1925, louisianadigitallibrary.org/islandora/object/uno-omsa%3A143.

“Mardi Gras 2023.” Edited by History.com Editors, History, A&E Television Networks, 25 Jan. 2010, www.history.com/topics/holidays/mardi-gras. Updated February 17, 2023

“Mardi Gras History.” Mardi Gras New Orleans, Copyright © 1996-2023 MardiGrasNewOrleans.com, www.mardigrasneworleans.com/history/.

Mardi Gras In New Orleans, Tuesday, March 6 Procession of the "Mystic [sic] Krewe of Comus"; April 6, 1867; wood engraving with watercolor by James Earl Taylor; THNOC, 1974.74.5

Wickland, Eric. “Mardi Gras - February 21, 2023.” National Today, Copyright © 2017–2023 by National Today, 19 Aug. 2021, nationaltoday.com/mardi-gras/.

No comments

We love hearing from you! Thanks for leaving us some comment love! If you're a new follower, please leave your link, so we can follow you back!

Sleep Tight with Sweet Night!

New Year Sale - Up to 40% OFF