Traditions - General Info Section

Mardi Gras - Fat Tuesday - Shrove Tuesday

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Mardi Gras - Fat Tuesday

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday and Carnival Season.

It takes place on a different date each year as it's a lunar celebration.

However, it always takes place on the Tuesday preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

Next Mardi Gras dates: 25 February 2020 - 16 February 21

Mardi Gras is a festival of Christian origin.

French - who are predominantly Roman Catholic - enjoy celebrating even if most have forgotten the religious meaning.

It has become above all an opportunity to disguise and party with family and friends – and all disguises are allowed!

The Carnival de Mardi Gras is therefore very popular in France!

Origin of the Carnival of Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras used to be the last day of a full week of celebration before Lent.

Lent is the forty-day period of fasting that leads to the celebration of Easter and during which no meat nor dairy products could be eaten.

On the Tuesday (Mardi), people therefore ate all the remaining fatty food (gras) they had stored in their homes.

The word Carnival is in fact the evolution of Levare Carne which literally translates as “remove” the meat from the meal.

Meat was not a sort of food people stored at home anyway, as it was very expensive.

However, what to do with the butter, milk and eggs, these perishable products that were part of their daily diet?

Easy: they made crêpes -pancakes!

In fact they emptied their larder, a sort of massive "Spring cleaning" in the kitchen!

Forty days without meat and dairy products was a long time, so people just went a bit wild before it started!

They indeed spent a full week eating whatever they fancied and Mardi Gras, the last day of this seven-day celebration, was the 'Grand Finale'!

Some were cheeky and went in disguise to knock on their neighbours’ doors and begged for more crêpes!

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