Why is Mardi Gras celebrated? Why is Mardi Gras also called Shrove Tuesday? Read what The Old Farmer’s Almanac has to say about this festive holiday.
I think that I may say that an American has not seen the United States until he has seen Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
- Mark Twain, American writer (1835–1910)
Mardi Gras Dates 2018
|2018||Tuesday, February 13|
|2019||Tuesday, March 5|
|2020||Tuesday, February 25|
What is Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”—the final feasting before the Christian season of Lent, which begins the day after Mardi Gras, Ash Wednesday.
Fat Tuesday is also called Shrove Tuesday, a name that comes from the practice of shriving—purifying oneself through confession—prior to Lent.
Traditionally, before fasting, Christians use up all the butter, sugar, and fat in the house, cooking up rich treats and fried foods.
- Among the Pennsylvania Dutch, the Tuesday is called Fastnacht (fast night), and everyone enjoys the traditional fastnachtkuchen, a rectangular doughnut with a slit in the middle.
- In Louisiana, the favorite treat is the beignet, a pillowy fried dough concoction.
- In Polish communities, the Tuesday is called “Paczki Day,” after the puffy jelly-filled doughnuts traditionally enjoyed.
- In England and many other countries, it’s called Pancake Day! Serve up some Shrove Tuesday Pancakes.
In countries with large Roman Catholic populations, Mardi Gras is also a day of revelry with festivals, parades, masked balls, and lavish dinners. In North America, New Orleans is the most known for its Mardi Gras celebrations with marching bands, decorated floats, colorful costumes and masks, lots of beads, and King Cakes.
In the spirit of New Orleans, try cooking up some great Cajun food such as this soul-warming Jambalaya.
Discover more about the history and traditions of this holiday on New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Website.