Category: Folk

About Mardi Gras

How long until Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras .
Dates of Mardi Gras
2025 InternationalMar 4
International Tue, Mar 4Observances Holiday
2024 InternationalFeb 13
International Tue, Feb 13Observances Holiday
2023 InternationalFeb 21
International Tue, Feb 21Observances Holiday
2022 InternationalMar 1
International Tue, Mar 1Observances Holiday
2021 InternationalFeb 16
International Tue, Feb 16Observances Holiday
Mardi Gras falls on the day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday.

When is Mardi Gras?

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 3rd February and the latest date is Tuesday March 9th.

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 a 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. The tradition didn't leave Mobile, a large Mardi Gras festival still takes place there.

Today Mardi Gras is undoubtedly most associated with New Orleans, though the first recorded Mardi Gras didn't take place there until 1836. Modern Mardi Gras festivals are organized by organizations called Krewes. The first Mardi Gras organized by a krewe took place in 1857 when a secret society called the Mistick Krewe of Comus (whose original members were from Mobile and are the oldest Krewe still in existence) organized the festival.

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.

Wearing masks is a common sight during the festival. This tradition started in the European carnivals as a way to enable people to behave as they wished and mix with other classes without the risk of ruining their reputation or social standing. The custom continues to this day in the New Orleans Mardi Gras, where float riders are required to wear masks by law, and many krewes never reveal who their king or queen is.

The krewes organize and fund the Mardi Gras parades through dues, fundraising, and merchandise. Each krewe comes up with an elaborate theme for their floats each year and puts a huge amount of effort into the preparation.

The festival is called Masopust in the Czech Republic, while Germans call it Faschingsdienstag or Veilchendienstag. Similarly, Italy calls it Martedì Grasso, and Sweden termed it Fettisdagen.

Related Observances

Read more about Fastelavn


Find out the dates, history and traditions of Fastelavn

Read More

Similar Observances

Read more about International Tartan Day

International Tartan Day

A day to celebrate Scottish heritage through arguably its most obvious manifestation - Tartan.

Read More
Read more about Raksha Bandhan

Raksha Bandhan πŸ›•

Raksha Bandhan is a Hindu festival that celebrates the love and duty between brothers and sisters.

Read More
Read more about Mabon


Find out the dates, history and traditions of Mabon

Read More
Read more about Halloween

Halloween πŸŽƒ

Ireland is believed to be the birthplace of the Halloween festival.

Read More

Other Observances on March 4th 2025

Read more about National Safety Day

National Safety Day

This special day of March is celebrated to make people feel safe from several national issues like financial loss, health problems and more.

Read More
Read more about National Pancake Day – IHOP

National Pancake Day – IHOP πŸ₯ž

Find out the dates, history and traditions of National Pancake Day – IHOP

Read More
Read more about National Grammar Day

National Grammar Day

National Grammar Day is a celebration of language and communication, where we take a moment to appreciate the importance of good grammar in our everyday lives.

Read More
Read more about National Hug a G.I. Day

National Hug a G.I. Day

Find out the dates, history and traditions of National Hug a G.I. Day

Read More
All events on March 4th 2025