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Why Mardi Gras is an Okie Tradition

Time to mask up and celebrate one of the most festive occasions of the year! Mardi Gras is more than just a day of partying because it brings together food, culture, music, and religion in one colorful "Carnival". Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday in French, which falls on Tuesday, February 13th this year. It's a "Day of eating and merrymaking before the fasting season of Lent. An annual festival held in France on the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” — meaning it is the last opportunity to eat rich food before the fast of Lent begins." 

Mardi Gras has been celebrated in America since 1699 when French soldiers and settlers celebrated the day with rich foods and mask in Mobile, Alabama. Mardi Gras began in New Orleans when the city was founded in 1718. Jazz became an integral part of Mardi Gras celebrations because jazz was so popular in the area and continued to evolve from brass bands to New Orleans funk. As settlers traveled west, jazz music and Mardi Gras followed, which means Mardi Gras has roots in Oklahoma, too. 

According to the Oklahoma History Society, "Oklahoma's major cities, such as Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Muskogee, served as training grounds for Oklahoma jazz artists. "Deep Deuce," or Northeast Second Street, was the core for Oklahoma City jazz. Institutions such as the Aldridge Theater, Ruby's Grill, Richardson's Shoe Shine Parlor, and Rushing's Café catered to jazz musicians and enthusiasts. Uptown ballrooms, such as the Ritz, were also important outlets. In addition, in the 1920s and 1930s numerous bands, including the Jolly Harmony Boys, Pails of Rhythm, and Ideal Jazz Orchestra, worked out of Oklahoma City. The city produced many notable jazz artists, including Jimmy Rushing, Henry Bridges, Charlie Christian, and Don Cherry." Come listen to the popular MCKEE BROTHERS JAZZ BAND at Bourbon St. Cafe on Mardi Gras from 6-9 p.m. 

The official colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green and gold represent justice (purple), faith (green), and power (gold). What's with the masks? According to The Culture Trip, "In the early days of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, participants wore masks to escape social constraints and allow themselves to be free to mingle with whomever they chose." Bourbon St. Cafe will be providing FREE Mardi Gras masks and beads to patrons on Feb. 13th so come snap a selfie at our place and share it with the hashtag #bourbonstmardigras for a chance to win a $25 GIFT CARD.

Another popular Mardi Gras tradition is King Cake. "King Cake is typically made with brioche dough. Braided and laced with cinnamon, the dough is then glazed with purple, green and gold sugar or covered in icing in those same Mardi Gras colors." Bourbon St. Cafe will be serving King Cake on Mardi Gras as well as the traditional Mardi Gras favorite, the Hurricane, which is a rum-based cocktail with passion fruit and lemon and orange juices. 

And maybe the most important aspect of Fat Tuesday - THE FOOD! Fill up with N'Awlins' inspired cuisine at Bourbon St. Cafe including crawfish, alligator bites, shrimp dishes or our popular seafood pasta dishes. See our full menu here. 

This year Mardi Gras also falls on the unofficial but widely celebrated Galentine's Day for women to honor female friendships. Just another great reason to get your group together and join us at Bourbon St. Cafe on February 13th!