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It's Carnival Season...

Check out this great blog on AL.com!  This is the longest Carnival season since 1943!


Tonight begins the longest Carnival season since 1943; the longest we’ll see until 2038.
Twelfth Night — the twelfth night after Christmas, also known as Epiphany — is always Jan. 6 (today). It marks the end of the Christmas season and the beginning of Carnival.

Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, of course, marks the close of Carnival, and the following day, Ash Wednesday, begins the Lenten season, which lasts until Easter. 

The date of Mardi Gras is measured backward from Easter, the first Tuesday beyond 47 days before Easter.
And Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox. 

No, really. It is. 

Anyway, the date of Mardi Gras itself, like Easter, varies from year to year. The earliest it can be is Feb. 3, and we came darn close in 2008, when Fat Tuesday was Feb. 5. 

The latest in the year that Mardi Gras can be is March 9, and this year it’s March 8. 

Just five days later, Daylight Saving Time will begin. Four days after that, it’ll be St. Patrick’s Day. Insert your own joke here about not being able to sober up from Mardi Gras before St. Paddy’s Day rolls around.
At its shortest, Carnival season runs 28 days. At its longest, it’s 62 days. Tonight marks the beginning of a 61-day Carnival season. 

The first Dauphin Island parade — the first parade of the season in the region — won’t be held until Feb. 5, one day before the Super Bowl. 

The downtown Mobile parading season will open with the Conde Cavaliers, of course, on Feb. 18, according to the city of Mobile’s website. 

A later Mardi Gras has a couple of advantages. The first that springs to mind is the weather. According to the National Weather Service, the normal high for March 8 is 69 degrees, and the normal low is 48.
Compare that to Feb. 3, when the normal high is 62 (if you’re really lucky), and the normal low is 40.
Just last year, the Conde Cavaliers had to postpone because of rain and rolled the next day, Jan. 30. It was 36 degrees that night, with a wind chill of 28 degrees. 

“It was extremely cold,” said one member of 26 years. “Hopefully, it will be a little warmer this year, but in Mobile, the weather is so iffy. We’ll be ready to roll, whatever it does.” 

Since parading organizations keep membership secret, the Press-Register usually speaks to members anonymously. 

“The weather’s not in our control,” the veteran Conde Cavalier said. “I’ve been through snow, rain, you name it. Even hot and muggy.” 

One good thing about the later date for Mardi Gras, the member said, is “it’s not right after the holidays. Sometimes you just get through the holidays, and it’s time to parade. This gives us a little separation.” 

Another advantage of a longer Carnival season is, plain and simple, more time to have fun and indulge in things like king cake. 

Traditionally, Carnival season is also king cake season. 

King cake, a tradition brought to New Orleans that migrated across the central Gulf Coast, is an oval ring of cake, usually with cinnamon, and nowadays usually filled with cream cheese and/or fruit. 

There is a small, plastic baby in the cake. Way back when, it was a bean or a coin. The person who gets the baby in their slice of cake is to be treated like a king for the day, and then he must bring the next king cake.
Mobilians like their king cake, and like other bakeries, the Atlanta Bread Company on Dauphin Street sells a bunch of them. 

“Every year, we sell more than the year before,” owner Bill Turk said. “Last year, with the economy the way it was, I didn’t think that would be true, but it was.” 

This year, with an extra long Carnival/king cake season, “it will probably mean a slower start, but it also means lots more time to sell them. 

“This is our busiest time of year.”


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