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Fat Tuesday – What Does It Mean?

Fat Tuesday
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Fat Tuesday – I see it on my calendar every year but never really knew what it was all about, other than the fact that it had something to do with Mardi Gras. So I did a little research and discovered some interesting things.

For instance, I found that the French translation of Fat Tuesday is Mardi Gras. I guess if I had taken French in school I might know that. I also found that Fat Tuesday – also known as Shrove Tuesday – refers 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. Somewhere along they way, this all translated into one big party in New Orleans every year.

But it’s not just New Orleans. Other cities, primarily along the Gulf Coast from Pensacola, Florida to Lafayette, Louisiana, have active Mardi Gras celebrations. Not surprising when you consider that particular region was formerly occupied and owned by the French.

As you might imagine, France has their own celebrations. Other countries celebrate Mardi Gras as well. As a young teenager I lived in Germany and remember a celebration there called Fasching. What I didn’t know was that Fasching is Germany’s way of celebrating Mardi Gras. Brazil celebrates with Carnaval, the most famous Brazilian holiday. In the Netherlands it is also called Carnaval. In Italy, it’s Carnevale. Sweden has Fettisdagen, while Belguim has the Carnival of Binche. You’ll also find celebrations in Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, and Mexico.

So, you don’t have to be in New Orleans to celebrate Fat Tuesday – or as the French say, Mardi Gras.

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