Mardi Gras season, which is celebrated around the world, begins after Kings Day or the Feast of the Epiphany in January, but the big celebration falls on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras in French, is a day of celebration before the fasting begins during Lent that leads up to Easter.
Christians around the world indulge in everything and anything on Fat Tuesday. Food, drink, dancing, and fun is usually the theme of the evening. The most famous American Mardi Gras celebration happens in New Orleans. The French Quarter swells with visitors wearing costumes, masks and beads, ready to lose their inhibitions and have fun til the wee hours of the morning.
Mardi Gras is celebrated all around the world and each country celebrates in their own tradition. Rio de Janeiro has one of the biggest celebrations in the world. The Rio Carnaval begins by crowning of the Fat King. An over-sized key to the city is presented to the newly crowned King by the Mayor of Rio. Samba is the theme of Rio Carnaval, music, dancing and the Samba Parade is the final event of the season.
In the UK, Fat Tuesday in known as Shrove Tuesday. The Brits don’t celebrate Mardi Gras with costumes and parades, instead they celebrate with pancakes. “Pancake Day” is an opportunity to indulge in delicious fatty, rich pancakes covered in fruit, chocolate and anything else that suits their fancy.
Germany’s celebration is called Fifth Season or is also known as crazy days. Germans hit the streets celebrating with parties, dancing, and parades. One of Germany’s most decadent indulgences is Krepfel, otherwise known as a doughnut.
The Australian celebrations include many of the traditional Mardi Gras events plus sporting events and the Mardi Gras film festival. The Bondi Beach Drag Races are a popular event during Mardi Gras. Some activities during the drag races include three-legged races, handbag discus, and building sandcastles.
The French word for Carnival is Mardi Gras so it is sure to put on the ultimate celebration. Some events celebrated are the Battle of Flowers, flowers can be bought in bulk by street vendors, and an over-the-top fireworks display called Burning of King Carnival, marks the end of the celebration.
Quebec City in Canada is still in the middle of the winter months when Mardi Gras comes around. The Canadian calls it the Quebec Winter Carnival. Events include ice sculptures, snow sports, and toboggan races, but they still include the traditional parade for the occasion.
The Venice Mardi Gras celebration in Italy has an old world vibe with elaborate Baroque costumes. The celebration takes place over a 12 day period and most of the costumed revelers celebrate in San Marco square. Some events include jousts, pretend military tournaments, and their most famous event, the Gran Ballo delle Maschere. A masquerade ball held in different venues every year.
Mardi Gras celebrations found around the world happens in most countries with a large population of people who celebrate the Catholic faith. It gives worshippers one last night to get their “ya-ya’s” before 40 days of observing a period of confession, prayer and reflection leading up the Easter holiday.
By Christina Thompson