Catholic Mardi Gras Celebration Ideas (And The Traditions That Started Them)

For anyone still looking for ideas to celebrate Mardi Gras with their kids and families, you’ve come to the right place! 🙂 We love to live the liturgical year in our home, and celebrating Mardi Gras is a fun way to have a final big hoopla before Lent begins! In this article, I am going to tell you a brief origin of each Mardi Gras tradition included here, and links to the coordinating Catholic Mardi Gras celebration ideas

What Is Mardi Gras?

Well, it’s really just the day before Lent begins. It always falls on a Tuesday since Lent always begins on Ash Wednesday. Traditionally, since Christians fast during Lent, Mardi Gras was a day to have a party and use up all the ingredients of the things you weren’t going to be eating during Lent. Back in the day those things included all fats and sugars. Nowadays our fasting tends to be less complex than that. 

Where Does The Name Mardi Gras Come From?

The phrase “Mardi Gras” literally translates from French to “Fat Tuesday”. So basically it’s the Tuesday before Lent that you eat up all the fat and everything before the fasting begins. Sometimes people also refer to this day as “Fat Tuesday” as well.

Catholic Mardi Gras Traditions

We are going to go through some basic Catholic Mardi Gras traditions one at a time so you can find what is a good fit for your family to celebrate this year.

Pancakes For Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is also knows as “Pancake Tuesday”. It was originally traditional to eat pancakes on Fat Tuesday because making them used up a lot of ingredients you weren’t allowed to eat during lent, such as fat, dairy, and sugar. We love to join in this tradition and you can find my Mardi Gras Pancakes Recipe here, which is a big hit with our family! I think they’re more fun when they’re Mardi Gras colored and it makes it extra special for liturgical celebration.

Bury The Alleluia

Did you know that Catholics don’t say “Alleluia” during worship in Lent? It’s totally taken out of the mass and everything. It’s a really cool thing to bring to your children’s attention during this season. Something you can do with your kids is to “bury the Alleluia”. You can find my directions for burying the Alleluia with Catholic kids here

Bury the Alleluia

After you make a big deal and sing about “Alleluia”, become quiet, and pack up your Alleluia to bring back out on Easter. You can put it away in a box, or a bag- whatever works for you and your family! 🙂

King’s Cake

Originally, king’s cake was made and eaten by Catholic families for the Epiphany to celebrate the coming of the 3 kings to see baby Jesus in Bethlehem. Given that the “carnival season” runs from the Epiphany until Ash Wednesday, and the day before Lent being your “last chance” to eat sweets, the cake has in more recent years been associated with Mardi Gras. 

The King’s cake is always shaped in a circular shape to represent the crown of a king and generally has some kind of trinket hidden inside. Usually, it’s a small plastic baby that is hidden inside the cake. The person who receives this trinket in their slice of cake is “king for the day” or has to bring the cake for next year’s party.

I have also seen in Catholic tradition that whoever finds the baby in the cake leads the rosary prayed that evening. 

King’s cake is usually decorated with white icing and purple, green, and yellow sprinkles or sugar. 

We make a super easy King’s cake that pops from a can! Let me show you how to make the world’s easiest king’s cake here

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If you’re in an adventurous mood, I also have a traditional and super delicious king cake recipe here. It takes like 2 1/2 hours to make though- you’ve been warned haha. It really is an amazing recipe, though. 

Let me show you how to make your own colored Mardi Gras sugar! It is super easy and with save you a trip to the store and is always waaaay cheaper than purchasing it already colored. 

Mardi Gras Colors: Green, Gold, And Purple

These colors of Mardi Gras are said to represent faith, power, and justice. Lets take a look at these fun ideas that incorporate the Mardi Gras colors! 

Check out my absolute favorite cookie recipe made into Mardi Gras cookies here!

Aren’t these Mardi Gras Crown cookies adorable? Find the directions to make them from Disney!
For a healthier but just as fun dessert option, try these DIY Mardi Gras jello snack cups! (non-alcoholic and totally kid friendly)
I also love the idea of making homemade beignets for Mardi Gras since they are so traditional to New Orleans!
For more fun Mardi Gras ideas, be sure to check out my Mardi Gras Pinterest board.

Mardi Gras Masks

These are very popular in Venice, Italy and date all the way back to the 13th century. Because they are worn to masked balls, they are most commonly known for covering the top half of the face only. This way the guests can still eat, drink, and talk freely. These are also very popular in New Orleans, Louisiana where Mardi Gras is extremely popular.

Check out this fun Mardi Gras mask your kids can craft. There is s free printable template!

Prepare For Lent!!!

Of course the most important part of Mardi Gras is being prepared for Lent to start! I have absolutely everything you need to observe Lent with your kids this year so check out my Lenten resources page here.


  1. Great ideas! We are going to attempt our first homemade King Cake and make an Alleluia to then hide til Easter. I'm excited to use the Banner Template and make one that isn't "hand drawn".

  2. Thanks for all of the fun ideas, Lacy! I too love the idea of using sprinkles on doughnuts;-) Those pancakes sure look good too!

  3. Jennifer says

    A King Cake is just a coffee cake. You can buy them at your local grocery store in the bakery and decorate it with the colorful icing. 🙂

  4. Tiny Actions says

    Ooohhh! Great post. We will make those pancakes. What a cute idea to color them. Thanks for sharing all these wonderful ideas Lacy!

  5. Fantastic idea about using colored sugar on the doughnuts…that is about my speed right now too! Thanks!

  6. I like the Mardi Gras game. Maybe when lading on a color, freedom- green, justice-purple or power-gold the player could choose a card that color that he has to do or share for older children or even adults. You’d gave to write the action they would get to do ahead of time. Just an idea. Thank you.

  7. I purchased your mom’s Lent bundle, how do I find it?

  8. Margaret Wolfe says

    I loved the ideas on this article. I had just been planning to run to the store for some colored sprinkles and was so happy to find your page on how to make your own, Thank you!!