When is Mardi Gras?
How long until Mardi Gras?
|This holiday next takes place in 48 Days.|
Dates of Mardi Gras
|Mardi Gras, the Tuesday before the start of Lent, came to North America as a French Catholic tradition|
Mardi Gras takes place on the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the 40 day period that precedes Easter.
As the date of Easter changes each year, so does the date of Mardi Gras. The earliest date Mardi Gras can be is Tuesday 3 February and the latest date is Tuesday 9 March.
In 2019, Mardi Gras is a legal state holiday in Louisiana. In Alabama, it is a holiday in Baldwin and Mobile Counties only.
History of Mardi Gras
In Europe, Lent meant the start of 40 days of fasting and abstinence before Easter. It was therefore practical to use up any perishable food items before Lent started on Ash Wednesday. In England, it became a tradition to make pancakes to use up any eggs, flour and Milk. The same applied to meat (the word Carnival is thought by many to come from the latin 'carne vale' - 'a farewell to meat').
In medieval Europe, these feasts became the pre-Lent carnivals of Europe, such as Venice and Nice. Lent often began as the worst of winter had passed, so a festival to celebrate the end of the cold weather and long nights was a welcome tradition. Indeed, the word 'Lent' comes from the Germanic 'Lencten' meaning lengthening, referring to the longer periods of daylight as winter finally gives way to spring in the northern hemisphere.
Mardi Gras is French for 'Fat Tuesday' which is a fitting name for day to try and cram as much excess in as you can before Lent - knowing you have those 40 days of fasting to lose any weight you might happen to put on. In some parts of Europe, the Tuesday before Lent is known as 'Shrove Tuesday', shrove being an old word for confessing - a day to cleanse the soul before Lent.
The tradition of Mardi Gras was brought to America by European settlers, notably French Catholics.
The first recorded organized Mardi Gras in what is now the USA took place in Mobile (now in Alabama) in 1703, which was the first capital of French Louisiana.
Today Mardi Gras is undoubtedly most associated with New Orleans, though the first recorded Mardi Gras didn't take place there until 1836.
Did you know?
The first daytime parade in New Orleans took place in 1872, and as the Russian Grand Duke Alexis Romanoff was visiting at the time, it was decided to use the Romanoff family colours of purple., green and gold as the official colors of the Carnival. Purple stands for justice; gold for power; and green for faith.
In 1875, Governor Warmoth signed the 'Mardi Gras Act', which first made 'Fat Tuesday' a legal holiday in Louisiana.