11 Ways To Celebrate Mardi Gras, Even If You’re Not In New Orleans

It's hard to believe that Mardi Gras 2018 is just around the corner — it lands on Tues., Feb. 13 this year. It feels like the day kind of just snuck up on us, so if you're scrambling to find some fun plans, don't worry, you definitely aren't alone. Now, of course, the best way to celebrate Mardi Gras is always going to be a trip to New Orleans. The city has been celebrating Mardi Gras for a few weeks now, and on Fat Tuesday one can always expect tons of parades, parties, masks, food, and more. And while we can't all afford to go down there for a day of debauchery, that doesn't mean you can't still get in on the fun. There are ways to to celebrate Mardi Gras in 2018, even if you're stuck at home.

Mardi Gras may be the most fun in NOLA, but there are certain traditions you can recreate on your own. To do that, though, you need to know at least a little about the history of the holiday. Also known as Fat Tuesday, it falls the day before Lent begins. Lent is part of the Catholic religion, and it signifies the period of time between when Jesus died and rose from the dead. In the Catholic or Christian religion, it's a serious time for reflection and fasting (although the fasting is typically reserved for the deeply religious). Fat Tuesday is basically the day of indulging in life's biggest pleasures before 40 days of sacrifice.

What does that mean for you? Basically, it means you need to make this day as fun — and delicious — as possible. Here are a few ways to celebrate Mardi Gras 2018 no matter where you are:

1. Throw A Party

Mardi Gras is all about the partying, so why not throw one for you and your friends? Yeah, it's the beginning of the week, but this is a legitimate excuse! Even if you do something for a small crowd, you're going to have a good time. Buy some masks, get some beads, play some good music, and get lots of food. The purpose of the day is to indulge, so do just that with some of your favorite people.

2. Bake A King Cake

A King Cake is a big Mardi Gras tradition, and it has really amazing history. The cake, which is round and kind of looks like a wreath, is symbolic of a crown. It's said to be the cake brought to America by the French in 1870. It's typically made with a French bread-like dough or brioche, then topped with sugar, and is kind of a mix of a pastry and coffee cake. There is a tiny plastic baby toy inside the cake. Whoever finds the baby in their slice becomes the "king" for the day. Bake one with this recipe from Brown Eyed Baker, and serve it at a party, or just, you know, keep it for yourself.

3. Find A Mardi Gras Celebration Nearby

Mardi Gras might have its roots in New Orleans, but it's a huge holiday — one that many other places want to capitalize on. Chances are good that the big city near you has a Mardi Gras celebration going on, like a small parade, a party or event, or just something like a special at a bar. Google "Mardi Gras Celebrations" near you, and you're bound to find something.

4. Make A Giant Feast

Fat Tuesday got its name because you're supposed to eat... a lot. Take advantage of this glorious day by making a giant feast for yourself or you and a few friends. Include lots of New Orleans favorites, like jambalaya, cornbread, gumbo, muffuletta, and red beans and rice. Then just eat, eat, eat.

5. Learn About The History And Traditions

Today, we might know Mardi Gras as a huge party. We might think about it in terms of getting beads, or just a reason to party on a Tuesday night.... but this is a holiday that has been around for a very long time, with lots of history and traditions. If you really want to honor the holiday, then take some time to learn about it more. Look it up online, get lost in some historical articles or books, or look for some movies/documentaries.

6. Wear Green, Gold, And Purple

The official colors of Mardi Gras are green, gold, and purple, and of course, there's a deeper significance there as well. Green is said to represent faith, purple represents justice, and gold represents power. If you don't have time to celebrate the holiday with food or a party, simply change up your wardrobe to feature these colors.

7. Drink Some Abita

Ready to drink? Grab some Abita beer, which hails from New Orleans and has lots of amazing seasonal options. Look for Abita's Mardi Gras Bock. It's festive, delicious, and just really perfect for the holiday.

8. Head To A New Orleans-Themed Restaurant

If you're not into the idea of making your own New Orleans-themed feast, then just head to a restaurant. Pick the most authentic option near you, but be sure to make reservations ahead of time: it's bound to be really crowded. You can get lots of good food and drinks, and they'll probably have some specials for Mardi Gras as well.

9. Eat All The Beignets

Speaking of food, you can't forget about beignets, one of the best foods from NOLA. They are basically hot dough with powdered sugar, and they are delicious. If you ever needed an excuse to eat them, this is the time.

10. Wear A Mask And Beads

It wouldn't be Mardi Gras without an elaborate mask and a bunch of colorful beads! Incorporate them into your day in some way, whether it's using them to create the most fun Fat Tuesday themed party, or just as an added accessory to your outfit.

11. Take A Trip To New Orleans

OK, seriously: the best way to celebrate Mardi Gras is to do it in the heart of New Orleans. It may be a little late to plan a trip to NOLA now, but there's always next year. Look into trips, hotels, and airfare, and start planning!