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Happy Mardi Gras!

So as not to confuse you, and before you read further, just know this post has absolutely nothing to do with dermatology. However, it has something to do with this dermatologist, who was born and raised in the Crescent City of New Orleans.

At the onset of the new year, the city and its’ citizens continue to celebrate the year-long party of life by celebrating the season of Mardi Gras. Stemming from calendar of the Catholic church, the season begins on the day of the arrival of the three wise men visiting Jesus in Bethlehem, and culminates on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.

The king cake itself is a light fluffy pastry bread, laced with cinnamon and sugar, and topped with icing and the three Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold, each representing the Magi. The purple has always been the color of royalty, but I have found some writing that suggests it represents justice. I like the concept of a royal baby King Jesus so I will continue in my mind to always associate it with royalty. The green represents the color of life, and the gold represents power. Within the cake itself, is a hidden small baby, representing baby Jesus. Tradition in New Orleans holds that whoever finds the baby in the king cake, is the one to hold the next Mardi Gras party, complete with king cake (of course). Every bakery in New Orleans has a slightly different flare for how they produce a good king cake, but I can honestly tell you that if you haven’t had a New Orleans king cake, you have not really ever experienced king cake. The bakeries there are incomparable to any other city I have ever visited in the United States!!

Typically, Mardi Gras is a time of extreme partying, celebration, and of course parades! Some parades are actually designed more towards families, while others are famous for their adult themes along the parade routes. Instead of spring break week in New Orleans schools, children are out for a week for Mardi Gras. The final day of partying is Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday. This signifies a time to eat a lot, specifically wheat, before the season of Lent officially begins on Ash Wednesday. The ending of Lent falls with Easter Sunday.

So now you know everything you need to know about Mardi Gras, and especially about the tradition of the king cake. All you have to do now is “Laissez les bons temps rouler”. That means “let the good times roll” for those of you who do not understand French!

Written by Dallas Dermatologist Dr. Ellen Turner.

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