Spring is just around the corner, with the weather warming up and Easter on the horizon, traditional spring celebrations across the world begin, starting with the famous Mardi Gras. While it’s not widely celebrated in the UK, Mardi Gras is still a well-known tradition for many at home and abroad.
What is Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras, meaning ‘Fat Tuesday’ in French, is a long-standing tradition dating back thousands of years.
It is the last day of the Carnival celebration, which begins in January.
The Carnival culminates on Fat Tuesday, with the huge Mardi Gras celebrations usually seen worldwide taking place on this day.
It is celebrated around the world with parades and festivals, particularly in the city of New Orleans in America.
Brazil also hosts weeklong carnivals, as well as Quebec in Canada and in Italy.
A Christian holiday, Mardi Gras dates back to pagan times and is celebrated in many countries around the world – mainly those with large Catholic populations.
Some experts believe Mardi Gras type festivities popped up solely as a result of the Catholic Church’s discouragement of sex and meat during the Lent period.
These experts believe Church reformers may have helped to propagate the pagan rumours in the hope of dissuading hedonism.
At this time, Pagans would celebrate spring and fertility, such as Saturnalia and Lupercalia, Which dates back to 133–31 BC.
These celebrations honoured the god of agriculture, Saturn, and were observed in mid-December, before the sowing of winter crops.
When is Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras is traditionally celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday – otherwise known as Pancake Day.
This year, Mardi Gras will take place on Tuesday, February 16.
The annual Carnival always kicks off 12 days after Christmas, January 6, and continues until Fat Tuesday, the evening before Ash Wednesday.