Mardi Gras, literally “fat Tuesday” en francias, is the end of the time of celebration known as Carnivale, basically the super large party right before Ash Wednesday and the 40 days and 40 nights of Lent. Although for those of you that can count, the Catholic Lenten Rite is actually 44 days. Since every religion that celebrates Lent is rooted in Catholicism the celebration of “fat tuesday” or Carnivale, started in Roman Catholic countries, France and Italy respectively, and spread from there. Many historian also believe that a celebration was being held previous to Catholicism taking root and was originally a pagan ritual welcoming the soon to be arrival of Spring. The origin of the words “fat tuesday” came from eating the calf that had been fattened especially for this celebration.
Lent is the season of penitence where Christian denominations give up things from their life that they see as keeping them from acting as Christ or from having a better relationship with Christ.
Mardi Gras is basically the one last hooray before this season of penance. (Plus Pope Gregory XIII made it an official holiday so as a good Catholic I must celebrate it right?)
Today many believe that Mardi Gras has swollen from a mediocre party into a loud rambunctious event that is out of control. While I wouldn’t dispute that New Orleans or Venice today is certainly to be one alcohol fueled party I would ask the question “Does anyone believe that the parties of today can necessarily compete with the parties of Renaissance Paris and Rome?”
My euros are on Louis XIV that he probably had the most debauched, unruly, and wild Mardi Gras/pre-Lenten celebration that the world has ever seen.
In New Orleans you would say “Laissez les bon temps rouler!” but since I speak French and that grates on the grammatical side of me, in France one would say something to the effect of “Que la fête commence!” (translations: 1) let the good times roll (literal) 2) The Festival begins!)
Have a fun Mardi Gras!
“if you don’t know History then you don’t know anything”