Let’s make no mistake about it – today is all about indulging in food, drink and partying, and in the case of Fat Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras – more is most definitely better… for tomorrow it all ceases.
Today is the last day of permissible over-indulgence, according to the Christian and Catholic calendar, as tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, aka the first day of Lent, where devotees abstain from luxuries and even commit to fasting.
The most famous examples of excess are undoubtedly the incredible lively and colourful carnivals which are held right across the world – the most famous example of course is the mighty Rio Carnaval in Brazil! Argentina holds the ‘Murga’ and Cajamarca in Peru is the self-styled Carnival capital, where locals dance around trees decked out in toys, food and bottles of alcohol.
Europe can more than hold its own in the fiery festival stakes too, with the annual Venice Carnival currently under way – masks and opulent 18th century outfits at the ready! The lively Croatian Carnival culminates in a lavish masked procession and France gets in on the act too; with Paris, Nice and Dunkirk all hosting exuberant carnivals. In fact the Nice Carnival dates back to 1294.
The Cape Verde Islands in Africa celebrate their Portuguese heritage with local carnivals, which include show-stopping fireworks, elaborate outfits and generally much merrymaking. Sao Vicente Island hosts the annual Mindelo Carnival, which is gradually adopting many of the Brazilian themes.
It’s time to get stuck into Mardi Gras, which is French for Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras parades are commonplace across the world, including the world famous New Orleans Mardi Gras located around the city’s Bourbon Street – the liveliest of them all! Italy holds its annual Martedí Grasso parade and the Swedish celebrate Fastan, where locals eat fastlagsbulle (sweet roll).
The British mark Fat Tuesday with Pancake Day, aka Shrove Tuesday, where sweet pancakes are consumed. The name ‘shrove’ is said to mean ‘absolution’ and this tradition is also a part of the culture in Canada, Australia, Ireland and New Zealand.
Image credit; Carol Highsmith via commons.wikimedia CC