The Carnival Season kicks off on the 12th day of Christmas, January 6 (a.k.a. Epiphany) and marks the day the Wise Men found baby Jesus. King Cake is served to mark this special day and it's decorated with purple (symbol of justice), green (represents faith) and gold (symbol of power). Legend has it that the cakes were made in a circle to represent the circular routes that the Wise Men took to find Jesus, in order to confuse King Herod and foil his plans of killing the Christ Child. A small baby, representing the Christ Child, is hidden in the cake and the recipient is then expected to host the next King Cake party. (Here's a great article: http://www.americancatholic.org/features/mardigras/).
I made my first King Cake last year (no pictures, sad!). We found a small plastic baby at one of the party stores here in town and I used Emeril's recipe: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/emeril-lagasse/king-cake-recipe/index.html. It looked something like this:
Last year, we went to New Orleans with our friends Kim and Lee Ferguson the weekend before Fat Tuesday. We stayed with Kim's aunt and uncle and had so much fun. They made fun of me for the incredible amount of beads I
This was one of the morning parades - you got pink strands of beads for kissing the men in tuxes.