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Feb 18, 2020

NOLA Catholic Parenting host Christine Bordelon talks with bloggers and columnists Ana Borden, Sarah McDonald and Gaby Smith about the Catholic aspects of Carnival and how Catholic families celebrate in New Orleans and include family, food and Mass.

:18 - Mardi Gras is coming up Feb. 25. Sarah said growing up she was aware of it going to Catholic schools. Historian Roger Baudier traced the celebrate back to 1699 with Iberville and Bienville landed near New Orleans and named Pointe du Mardi Gras, celebrated Mass and

Mardi Gras has been here 321 years.

1:20 They found a way to celebrate Mass even without a physical church building. How do New Orleanians today fit Mass in with the hubbub of the secular celebration.

1:39: Sarah McDonald said church parishes on the parade route have particular ways they celebrate the weekend before Mardi Gras, especially welcoming people to their site. That’s what Catholics are –  a welcoming church in spirit and by offering bathrooms and concessions. “Doing in such a way that’s that hospitality we are known for in New Orleans.” Those who are used to getting to Mass right on time, need to get there earlier because more people go to Mass at different parishes close to parade routes.  St. Francis of Assisi has a jazz Mass before Thoth. Our Lady of the Rosary has welcomed Endymion parade goers with parking and handing out Mass cards with Mass times.

 4:35: Gaby said she thinks it is genius for parishes to be welcoming to crowds – advertising without spending a lot of money and giving people a sense of a secure parking in a safe spot. Msgr. Nalty does a good job at Good Shepherd Parish (Uptown on Napoleon Avenue). Where Gaby lives, she cannot leave her house by car along parade routes after a certain time. She goes to Masses where she can get to it.

5:56: Ana and her family have hung out with other families along St. Charles for the past seven years. She brings homemade king cakes to the parties she is invited to.

6:47: Sarah is a St. Charles Avenue parade-goer, too, with other families, music and food, especially the weekend before Mardi Gras Day. “It is such a family-friendly time.”

7:55: Ana loves to compare the photos from previous years – seeing how the children have grown. She likes to walk along route, too.

8:15: Sarah said her crowd takes a photo Mardi Gras day. It started with only two kids about a decade ago and has grown to 20 kids today. They’ve progressed from ladders to platform.

8:57:  Christine – used to go St. Charles and Napoleon when her children were younger. It really was a fun time.

9:40: Ana makes homemade king cakes. She sStarted making them when she left New Orleans and moved to Chicago for a time. Jan. 6 was her favorite day. She made four this year. It’s hours of work, but I love it. She Cubanizes it with guava and cream cheese and Mardi Gras colors. “It’s a family tradition.”

10:45: Sarah said her husband’s family also has a tradition of king cakes dating to her husband’s grandmother who made one every year. Three of the cousins still have the recipe, including her husband. She had does cinnamon rolls in a can that her kids decorate.

11:45: Christine said Jan.6  –  Feast of the Epiphany when the three kings visited the baby Jesus in the manger. It’s the start of king cake season also. When she was a youngster, there were king cake parties with classmates.

Mardi Gras is last big blow out before the sacrifices of Lent that start Ash Wednesday. Usually we give up meat on Fridays and fast on Good Friday. Special traditions exit among families.

12:30: Ana said fish fries are a big tradition in her family. Her husband helps fry the fish in her parish with the Knights of Columbus, so her kids are proud to see their dad helping.

12:45: In Sarah’s parish, it’s a big community-based tradition beyond parishioners. Many people pick up the food and. Her oldest son has developed a love for homemade tomato soup with grilled cheese on Fridays when they don’t go buy fish.

13: Gaby said she experiments with creative alternatives to seafood because her husband is allergic to seafood. She also goes to the Stations of the Cross on Fridays after work.

14:15: Christine mentioned a new challenge this year among parishes sponsored by the Clarion Herald and Archdiocese of New Orleans – a fish fry contest called Fantastic NOLA Catholic Friday Fish Fry. The public has a chance to participate by voting. Visit