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Fat Tuesday

Today is Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday!

Fat Tuesday changes every year depending on Easter, and in 2013, we celebrate on February 12! Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, is all about overindulgence and feasting prior to lent, which begins the following day. Today marks the end of the Carnival season and people celebrate with music, parades, and parties.

Mardi Gras celebrations began thousands of years ago in medieval Europe as a pagan ritual to celebrate springtime. Christian leaders decided they would integrate Mardi Gras by recognizing it as a period of excess right before the Christian fasting holiday of Lent.

The first American Mardi Gras was reported to have taken place on March 3, 1699, when two French explorers settled in Louisiana. The Twelfth Night Revelers introduced the throwing of beads and other trinkets to crowds of people in the 1870s. Carnival has grown into wild and hedonistic celebrations, the largest of which occur in Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans, Louisiana.

Laissez les bon temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)

Sources: Mardi Gras New Orleans, NOLA

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What is Mardi Gras?

“Mardi Gras” may bring up images of decorative masks, parties and parades, beads, and the colors purple, green and gold. And no city celebrates the festive cultural phenomenon Mardi Gras has become like New Orleans does. But Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday in French, originates from traditions related to the Christian season of Lent, a 40-day fasting period.

What is Mardi Gras?

Traditionally, Mardi Gras was a “last hurrah” – the last day to eat everything and anything before the fast and, especially, to use up any fat, eggs and dairy in the home, which is why Mardi Gras is sometimes referred to as Pancake Tuesday.

How do people celebrate Mardi Gras today?

Rather than fasting for 40 days, many people give up something special that they enjoy for the 40 days of Lent. For those who still celebrate Mardi Gras in the Christian tradition, the holiday is the last day to enjoy that one special thing, usually a food or drink, one last time before Lent begins.

When is Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras falls is always celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent. The exact date differs from year to year, depending on what date Easter falls on.

Check out the links below to learn more about the history and celebration of Mardi Gras:

History of Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Mardi Gras New Orleans

Sources: holidayinsights.com, americancatholic.org, history.com
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