Fat Tuesday Traditions

Traditional King Cake

Mysti Krewe of Nimbus incor­po­rates as many Mardi Gras tra­di­tions as pos­si­ble in the Portland Mardi Gras Ball. If you've ever won­dered why there is a baby in the king cake, or even WHAT IS a king cake, we'll try to explain!

1. What *is* Mardi Gras and why cel­e­brate it?

    Mardi Gras is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the start of Lenten sea­son, where tra­di­tion­al­ly peo­ple are asked to give up some­thing for 40 days. Mardi Gras is basi­cal­ly French for Fat Tuesday - the big par­ty before the fast­ing and depri­va­tion begins.

2. Why wait until January 6th to announce the Portland Mardi Gras Ball the­me this year?

    January 6th/Twelth Night/Epiphany sig­nals the end of the Christmas sea­son and the begin­ning of Mardi Gras sea­son in Louisiana. New Orleans Krewes start throw­ing balls and par­ties lead­ing up to Mardi Gras Day and var­i­ous parades. It's also the appro­pri­ate time to enjoy king cake.

3. King Cake? What is that?

    King cake is a round raised dough cake, much like a cof­fee cake. It's cov­ered with frost­ing, and the tra­di­tion­al Fat Tuesday col­ors of pur­ple (jus­tice), green (faith) and gold (pow­er) sug­ar. Each cake con­tains a small plas­tic baby. Whoever gets the baby in their slice of cake gets to either buy the next cake and/or host the next Mardi Gras Party.
    More infor­ma­tion on king cakes and their his­to­ry
    Looking for a King Cake in Portland? Try New Seasons or Beaverton Bakery around Mardi Gras time 

4. Throw me some­thing, Mister! Mardi Gras Beads

    The strings of shiny plas­tic beads that sym­bol­ize Mardi Gras start­ed with the Rex parade in the ear­ly 20th cen­tu­ry. Originally made of glass, they were a sou­venir, and a way for the dif­fer­ent parade krewes to con­nect with their audi­ences. It's not nec­ces­sary to remove cloth­ing to get the atten­tion of a bead-throw­er - a sim­ple "Throw me some­thing, Mister" - the tra­di­tion­al parade shout - is enough to win more beads than you know what to do with! During the 2012 Ball, beads were tossed from the upper bal­cony to the cos­tumed dancers below. 
Tossing beads from the balcony at the Bossanova Ballroom
Tossing beads from the bal­cony at the Bossanova Ballroom

Want to know more? Check out this page from New Oreleans Online about Mardi Gras Traditions!