Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) Date in the current year: March 5, 2019

Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras) Shrove (Fat) Tuesday, also known by its French name Mardi Gras, is the culmination of the Carnival season in many countries across the world. Occurring on the day immediately preceding Ash Wednesday, it is the last night of eating fatty foods before the long-lasting Lenten season that ends before Easter.

Shrove Tuesday is the final day of the Christian liturgical season known as Shrovetide. It is the time of preparation before Lent, a 40-day-long period of fasting and abstinence before Easter. In many countries, Shrovetide is associated with celebrations and festivities, giving people the last opportunity to eat rich foods and rejoice before Lent begins. On Fat Tuesday, Carnival festivities typically reach their peak, although in some localities they culminate on Rose Monday instead.

In some countries, the term “Mardi Gras” refers not only to Fat Tuesday itself but also to the Carnival season in general. The beginning of the pre-Lenten festival season varies from country to country. In Germany, for example, it officially kicks off on November 11, although actual street parades begin in February. In a number of countries, the season begins right after Epiphany. Others begin their celebrations mere days before Fat Tuesday.

Mardi Gras parades and related celebrations are held in many predominantly Catholic and Anglican European countries. During the colonial period, the tradition of Shrovetide Carnival celebrations was brought to the Americas, including the Caribbean, where it transformed into the colorful Caribbean carnival as we know it today. Some of the most spectacular Mardi Gras celebrations are held in New Orleans, Rio de Janeiro, Barranquilla, Port of Spain, Quebec City, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Venice, and Mazatlán.

A Mardi Gras parade usually involves revelers in vibrant costumes, lavishly decorated floats (in some towns and cities, it is customary to make floats and giant papier-mâché figures that make fun of politicians and current events), dancers, and musicians. Some cities and towns have their unique Carnival traditions. For example, the Italian city of Ivrea hosts the annual Battle of Oranges, where organized groups throw oranges at one another.

In many countries, Shrove Tuesday is associated with pancakes or sweet pastries because they are a way to use up milk, eggs, sugar, fat, and other rich foods before the fast begins. In the United Kingdom, Ireland, and parts of the Commonwealth, the day is even commonly referred to a Pancake Day or Pancake Tuesday. Thin pancakes called blini are part of Shrovetide festivities in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, but Orthodox Maslenitsa doesn’t coincide with Western Christian Shrove Tuesday.

In the Nordic and Baltic countries (Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania), a traditional Fat Tuesday treat is semla, also known as laskiaispulla, vastlakukkel, fastlagsbulle, fastelavnsbolle, or Lent bun. A semla is a cardamom-spiced sweet roll with sweet filling, iced or dusted with powdered sugar. Fillings vary depending on the country, traditional ones include a mix of almond paste and milk, whipped cream, and jam.

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Category

Religious Holidays, Folk Festivals

Country

Angola, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Cape Verde, Dominica, Ecuador, French Guiana, Grenada, Guadeloupe, Haiti, Liechtenstein, Martinique, Panama, Portugal, Saint Barthelemy, Saint Martin, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Venezuela

Tags

religious holiday, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Western Christian holidays, Lent, Shrove Tuesday