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Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday is celebrated on a different day every year. This is because it is tightly intertwined with Lent and Easter. This year it will be celebrated on March 1, 2022.
It is a Christian holiday and a popular cultural phenomenon that dates back for thousands of years. Back then pagans celebrated the holiday by performing spring and fertility rites.
Fat Tuesday is also known as Carnaval or Carnival and is celebrated in many countries around the world. However, it is mainly in places with large Roman Catholic populations the day prior to the start of Lent.
New Orleans, Venice, and Brazil play host to some of Mardi Gras’s most public festivities that draw thousands of revelers and tourists every year. In many areas, Carnaval has evolved into a week-long festival.
Mardi Gras celebrations were canceled twice because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people are excited to be able to celebrate it once again in New Orleans.
The holiday’s name is French. Mardi means Tuesday and gras is the French word for “fat.” They call it the day before Ash Wednesday Mardis Gras because people would binge on all the rich, fatty foods — meat, eggs, milk, lard, and cheese — that remained in their homes, in anticipation of several weeks of eating only fish and different types of fasting for Lent.
The word carnival, another common name for the pre-Lenten (Forelent) festivities, also derives from this feasting tradition. In Medieval Latin, carnelevarium means to take away or remove meat, from the Latin carnem for meat, according to History.
Krewe of Comus held the first Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans on Feb. 24, 1857. They started the tradition of presenting a parade with floats and following it with a ball. The purple, green, and gold colors were chosen by Rex, the King of Carnival, in 1892. Purple stands for justice, green is for faith, and gold for power.
One of the popular treats to eat on Mardi Gras is the “king cake. It is a blend of a cinnamon roll and coffee cake and is usually iced in purple, green, and yellow. Frequently people pack the dessert with decadent cream cheeses and fruit filling. Hidden within the sticky treat is a surprise — a plastic king cake baby. The person who finds the baby is the one who brings the king cake the following year.
Mardi Gras is a day for people to eat, be merry, dress in bright colors, and grab some beads.
Written by Sheena Robertson
New Orleans: KING CAKES
History: Mardi Gras 2022
Mardi Gras New Orleans: History FAQs
People: Everything to Know About Mardi Gras, Including Its Origin, How to Celebrate, and More; by Skyler Caruso
Top and Featured Image Courtesy of Marcy Leigh’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Rex Hammock’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License