Mardi Gras! Both words translated from the French mardi meaning Tuesday, gras meaning fat. Reverse the word order and thus we have Fat Tuesday! We’ve all heard stories of the festive Mardi Gras parties from New Orleans’ French Quarter or Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, but here are some things you may not know about the holiday:
- Some other names given to this celebration are Shrove Tuesday, Paczki Day, Pancake Tuesday and Carnival.
- The official colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green and gold.
- Fat Tuesday is aptly named because many years prior to modern freezers/refrigerators, all the foods such as eggs, milk, cheese, butter and other such animal fats that would not last through Lenten fasting season had to be eaten on or by this day or they would go bad.
- The earliest date that Fat Tuesday can fall is February 3 and the latest date is March 9.
- Mardi Gras always falls 47 days before Easter.
- The 1st American Mardi Gras was on March 3, 1699. This celebration was held in what is now Mobile, Alabama.
- Mardi Gras technically refers only to Fat Tuesday; however, the Mardi Gras season actually begins on the Christian holiday celebrated on January 6 known as Epiphany, Three Kings Day or the Twelfth Day of Christmas.
- King Cake, a cake available only during Mardi Gras, has a small, plastic baby hidden inside. Whoever gets the slice with the baby in it has to buy the next King Cake.
- “Laissez les bon temps rouler” is the official greeting of Mardi Gras. You will hear it proclaimed throughout the streets. It means “Let the good times roll.” And I can attest to this!
- The most popular adult drink at Mardi Gras is called a Hurricane.
- If you ride on a float, you must wear a mask or paint your face. It isn’t just tradition, it is the law!