Living in the U.S., I've always associated Mardi Gras with the beaded necklaces and parade trinkets linked to the New Orleans celebration. Now that I am raising my children in French, however, I've learned that the pre-Lent carnival season in France is largely an occasion for children to celebrate, somewhat like Halloween in the U.S. Here's what I mean:
While French adults may purchase doughnut-like bugnes from la boulangerie and others may travel to the flashy parades in larger cities like Nice, young French children get to wear costumes for le carnaval. While many students are allowed to wear unique costumes (usually homemade), it's not uncommon for school-age children to make identical costumes as a class activity (with the help of parent volunteers). On the chosen day of their carnaval parade, the children get to walk though the streets of their neighborhood with a police escort, music, serpentins (streamers), and confettis.
Doesn't this sound like a lovely day for children? We Americans tend to think that Halloween is unique to us--and it is--but carnaval is the European equivalent minus the sinister backdrop. Here are more photos of costumed French children at carnaval:
Children from many western cultures seem to enjoy the same disguises--princesses, pirates, animals, etc. I'm sure these photos bring back memories of costumes from your own childhood.
Which costumes and dress-up clothes do your children like to wear? Do you have a favorite costume that you or they have worn?