Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras
(Also known as Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday)
Mardi Gras(Also known as Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday)
Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, USA
Type Local, cultural, Catholic
Significance Celebration prior to fasting season of Lent.
2011 date March 8
2012 date February 21
Celebrations Parades, parties
Related to Carnival

The terms "Mardi Gras" (play /ˈmɑrdiɡrɑː/), "Mardi Gras season", and "Carnival season",[1][2][3][4][5] in English, refer to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after Epiphany and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi gras is French for "Fat Tuesday" (in ethnic English tradition, Shrove Tuesday), referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday. Related popular practices are associated with celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent. Popular practices include wearing masks and costumes, overturning social conventions, dancing, sports competitions, parades, etc. Similar expressions to Mardi Gras appear in other European languages sharing the Christian tradition. In English, the day is called Shrove Tuesday, associated with the religious requirement for confession before Lent begins.

In many areas, the term "Mardi Gras" has come to mean the whole period of activity related to the celebratory events, beyond just the single day. In some US cities, it is now called "Mardi Gras Day" or "Fat Tuesday".[1][2][3][4][5] The festival season varies from city to city, as some traditions consider Mardi Gras the entire period between Epiphany or Twelfth Night and Ash Wednesday.[6] Others treat the final three-day period before Ash Wednesday as the Mardi Gras.[7] In Mobile, Alabama, Mardi Gras-associated social events begin in November, followed by mystic society balls on Thanksgiving,[6][8] then New Year's Eve, followed by parades and balls in January and February, celebrating up to midnight before Ash Wednesday. In earlier times parades were held on New Year's Day.[6] Other cities famous for Mardi Gras celebrations include Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Barranquilla, Colombia, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, Quebec City, Canada; Mazatlán, Sinaloa in Mexico; and New Orleans, Louisiana, United States.

Carnival is an important celebration in Catholic European nations. In the United Kingdom and Ireland, the week before Ash Wednesday is called "shrovetide", ending on Shrove Tuesday. It has its popular celebratory aspects as well. Pancakes are a traditional food. Pancakes and related fried breads or pastries made with sugar, fat and eggs are also traditionally consumed at this time in many parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Mardi Gras in Dakar, Senegal.
Mardi Gras in Marseille, France.
Mardi Gras in Binche, Belgium.



In the Belgian city of Binche the Mardi Gras festival is the most important day of the year and the summit of the Carnival of Binche. Around 1000 Gilles dance throughout the city from morning until past dusk, whilst traditional carnival songs play. In 2003, the "Carnival of Binche" was proclaimed one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.


Carnaval is the most famous Brazilian holiday. During this time period Brazil attracts 70% of its tourists. Variations in carnaval celebrations are observed throughout the multitude of Brazilian cities. Yet, a commonality observed among them is the incorporation of samba into the celebrations. The southeastern cities of Brazil have massive parades that take place in large sambadromes. The largest carnaval celebration in Brazil and the world occurs in Rio de Janeiro, where two million people are found celebrating in the city. The city of Bahia also holds a large carnaval celebration.


The celebration of Mardi Gras in Germany is called Karneval, Fastnacht, or Fasching.[9] Fastnacht means "Eve of the Beginning of the Fast", and is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday.

The most famous parades are held in Cologne, Mainz, and Düsseldorf on the Monday before Ash Wednesday, called Rosenmontag.


Carnevale is the traditional pre-Lenten celebration in Italy. Carnevale was Mardi Gras predecessor. The French borrowed this idea and made it popular. This is a time of merry-making, masquerade processions, masked balls, parades, pageants, jugglers, magicians, stilt walkers, elegant costumes and opulent masks, singing and dancing, fireworks, and outdoor feasts in the weeks prior to Ash Wednesday. The festivities of the last days of carnevale are the most intense as they culminate on Martedí Grasso (Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday). There are traditional foods and dolci (sweets) distinctively associated with carnevale, including fritelle, crespelle, sfingi, frappe, castagnole, cenci, nodi, chiacchere, bugie, galani, frittole, berlingaccio, sanguinaccio and tortelli, among others.

In Milan Mardi Gras is not the climax of Carnival, since the Carnival lasts four more days, ending on the Saturday after Ash Wednesday, because of the Ambrosian rite. The last day of Carnival, therefore, is the "Sabato grasso" (Shrove or Fat Saturday).


The Netherlands also has a festival similar to Mardi Gras. It's called Carnaval and is similar to the Venice Carnival. The origin of the word Carnaval is 'Carne Vale' which means Goodbye to the meat in Latin. It marks the beginning of the sacred period that leads to Easter.

The real festival is held in the southern part of the Netherlands in the provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg.


In Sweden the celebration is called Fettisdagen. It comes from the word "fett" (fat) and "tisdag" (Tuesday). Originally, this was the only day one should eat semlor.[10] These are now sold in most grocery stores and bakeries preceding the holiday, and up until Easter.

United States

Mardi Gras 2010 celebrants in the French Quarter of New Orleans, in the traditional colors of purple, green, and gold.

While not observed nationally throughout the United States, a number of traditionally ethnic French cities and regions in the country have notable celebrations. Mardi Gras arrived in North America as a French Catholic tradition with the Le Moyne brothers,[11] Pierre Le Moyne d'Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, in the late 17th century, when King Louis XIV sent the pair to defend France's claim on the territory of Louisiane, which included what are now the U.S. states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.[11]

The expedition, led by Iberville, entered the mouth of the Mississippi River on the evening of March 2, 1699, Lundi Gras. They did not yet know it was the river explored and claimed for France by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1683. The party proceeded upstream to a place on the west bank about 60 miles downriver from where New Orleans is today, and made camp. This was on March 3, 1699, Mardi Gras, so in honor of this holiday, Iberville named the spot Point du Mardi Gras (French: "Mardi Gras Point") and called the nearby tributary Bayou Mardi Gras. Bienville went on to found the settlement of Mobile, Alabama in 1702 as the first capital of French Louisiana.[12] In 1703 French settlers in Mobile began the Mardi Gras celebration tradition.[11][13][14] By 1720, Biloxi had been made capital of Louisiana. The French customs had already accompanied colonists who settled there.[11]

In 1723, the capital of Louisiana was moved to New Orleans, founded in 1718.[12] The tradition has expanded to the point that it became strongly associated with the city in popular perception, and embraced by residents of New Orleans beyond those of French or Catholic heritage. Mardi Gras celebrations are part of the basis of the slogan, Laissez les bons temps rouler, (Let the good times roll) and the nickname "Big Easy".[11] Mobile, Alabama, the former capital of New France, also has a long tradition of celebrating Mardi Gras. Other cities along the Gulf Coast formerly occupied and owned by the French from Pensacola, Florida, and its suburbs to Lafayette, Louisiana, have active Mardi Gras celebrations. In the rural Acadiana area, many Cajuns celebrate with the Courir de Mardi Gras, a tradition that dates to medieval celebrations in France.[15]

In the last decade of the 20th century, the rise in producing commercial videotapes catering to voyeurs helped encourage a tradition of women baring breasts in exchange for beads and trinkets.[16] This is practiced only in very small fragments of where Mardi Gras is celebrated, mostly by visitors rather than locals.

See also


  1. ^ a b In London, Mardi Gras season: "Paul's Pastry Shop kneads a ton of dough in Picayune",, 2008, webpage: Allbusiness-35.
  2. ^ a b In New Orleans, Mardi Gras season: "Mardi Gras in New Orleans |",, 2009, webpage:
  3. ^ a b In Mobile, Mardi Gras season: "New Orleans has competition for Mardi Gras",, February 2006, webpage: USATODAY-com-mardi.
  4. ^ a b In San Diego, Mardi Gras season: " - Mardi Gras in San Diego: FAQ's",, 2008, webpage:
  5. ^ a b In Texas, Mardi Gras season: "Let’s Celebrate: Mardi Gras 2008",, January 2008, webpage: southernbyways-com-TX.
  6. ^ a b c "Mardi Gras Terminology". "Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau". Retrieved November 18, 2007. 
  7. ^ "The Season of Lent". January 7, 2010. Retrieved October 16, 2010. 
  8. ^ "Mobile Carnival Association, 1927",, 2006, webpage: mardigrasdigest-Mobile.
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ "Swedish semla: more than just a bun". Retrieved February 22, 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c d e "New Orleans & Mardi Gras History Timeline" (event list), Mardi Gras Digest, 2005, webpage: MG-time.
  12. ^ a b "Timeline 18th Century:" (events), Timelines of History, 2007, webpage: TLine-1700-1724: on "1702-1711" of Mobile.
  13. ^ "Mardi Gras in Mobile" (history), Jeff Sessions, Senator, Library of Congress, 2006, webpage: LibCongress-2665.
  14. ^ "Mardi Gras" (history), Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau, 2007, webpage: MGmobile.
  15. ^ "Mardi Gras in Rural Acadiana". Retrieved February 18, 2010. 
  16. ^ Shrum, W. and J. Kilburn. "Ritual Disrobement at Mardi Gras: Ceremonial Exchange and Moral Order". Social Forces, Vol. 75, No. 2. (Dec., 1996), pp. 423-458.

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Mardi Gras.BB — in der Besetzung 2007 Gründung 1992 Genre Blues, Brass Band Website …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mardi Gras bb — Mardi Mardi in der Besetzung 2007 Gründung 1992 Genre Blues, Brass Band Website …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Mardi Gras — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Mardi gras (homonymie), Mardi et Gras. Mardi gras Pochette de Mardi Gras Rag (1914) …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Mardi Gras (EP) — Mardi Gras Studio album by Cowboy Mouth Released 2010 …   Wikipedia

  • Mardi Gras.BB — est un brass band allemand originaire de Mannheim au style de musique atypique, mêlant au jazz classique d un big band du blues, du funk, de la soul. Mardi a vendu plus de 100 000 albums à travers le monde.[réf. nécessaire]… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Mardi — est un brass band allemand originaire de Mannheim au style de musique atypique, mêlant au jazz classique d un big band du blues, du funk, de la soul. Mardi a vendu plus de 100 000 albums à travers le monde.[réf. nécessaire]… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • mardi-gras — n. m. (Haïti, Louisiane) Grande fête organisée à l occasion du mardi gras. Personne déguisée participant à un carnaval. Des mardi gras. || (Louisiane) Le capitaine des mardi gras ou (mieux) des Mardi Gras: celui qui ouvre le cortège des Mardi… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Mardi Gras — Студийный альбом Creedence Clearwater Revival Дата выпуска 11 апреля 1972 Записан …   Википедия

  • Mardi Gras — (lit. martes graso) es el nombre con el que se designa en francés el martes de Carnaval. El término puede referirse a: Martes de Carnaval, en general. Más concretamente, Mardi Gras en Nueva Orleans (Estados Unidos); Mardi Gras Gay y Lésbico de… …   Wikipedia Español

  • Mardi gras — Mar di gras , n. [F., literally, fat Tuesday.] 1. The last day of Carnival; the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (the beginning of Lent and fasting); Shrove Tuesday; in some cities a great day of carnival and merrymaking; in the United States it is… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Mardi — Allgemeine Informationen Genre(s) Blues, Brass Band Gründung 1992 Website htt …   Deutsch Wikipedia