March 5th is officially Mardi Gras, also known as Fat Tuesday. Known for its parades and party-filled celebrations, Mardi Gras has been around since the 17th century, and surprisingly, has a religious undertone.
Although it’s celebrated on the last Tuesday of the month, or the Tuesday before the Christian Ash Wednesday, the party starts on Jan. 6, or Three Kings Day, which marks the beginning of Carnival Season.
Mardi Gras is the french translation of “Fat Tuesday,” and it’s called so because the day itself is all about “indulging” one last time, before Christians give up something for Lent. What they give up can be anything from a food item to a bad habit, but the whole point of Fat Tuesday is to essentially gorge on sins to prepare for the 40-day cleansing period that is Lent.
It’s not just a New Orleans thing, either.
Countries around the world like Brazil, Quebec, Spain, Cayman Islands, and Germany celebrate the Carnival season in their own ways. In the UK, it’s called Pancake Tuesday, because pancakes are made with the butter and eggs that people often give up for Lent, so people living in the UK get to spend all day eating pancakes. Goals.
Mardi Gras is also called Shrove Tuesday, as historically, many Christians took the Tuesday before Lent as an opportunity to attend confession. Shrove is the past tense of shrive, referring to a priest hearing a confession and assigning a penance.
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The official colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold, symbolizing justice, faith, and power, respectively.
In cities that celebrate it, you’ll often find cheap drinks, big crowds, crazy parades, and lots of bead necklaces. And although it has a religious undertone, you don’t have to be religious to party. Right on.
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