Why Is Mardi Gras Called Fat Tuesday

In English tradition, “Fat Tuesday” designates “Shrove Tuesday”. Both terms refer to their counter-parts in French tradition. “Mardi Gras”, “Mardi Gras Season” or the “Carnival Season.” A Carnival season entails religious celebrations beginning from Epiphany, the anniversary day of the Christ’s baptism into a day before Ash Wednesday. From Ash Wednesday onward start the fasting days of Lent, a season of liturgical rites featuring Confession and Repentance. Fat Tuesday falls on day before Ash Wednesday. The nature of celebrations held on this day is somewhat preparatory to Lenten practices. Over the course of forty days of Lenten season fasting is observed that forbids from eating fatty substances. So, the preparation of Pancakes with ingredients rich with fats is symbolic of exhaustion of fatty ingredients, such as sugar, fat and eggs from your kitchen before Lent starts the very next day.

Other Carnival celebrations of Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday include: wearing masks and costumes, dancing & sporting, parades, etc. These are similar expressions to Fat Tuesday in places where European languages are spoken sharing the same Christian tradition.

Mardi Gras Why Is Mardi Gras Called Fat Tuesday

Explaining WHY:

With the passage of time, many areas in the world have assumed celebrations of Mardi Gras for the whole period instead of a single day. Today, in some US cities the celebrations have been restored to the original title “Mardi Gras Day” or “Fat Tuesday”. The length of festival season varies from one city to other, for according to some traditions Mardi Gras marks the whole period between Epiphany and Ash Wednesday.

Some societies consider the last three days before Ash Wednesday as the Mardi Gras. In the past parades were conducted on New Year’s Day. There are some cities popularly known for celebrating Mardi Gras, such as, Rio de Janeiro, Quebec in Canada; and New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States.


Catholic European nations consider Carnival as an important celebration. The week just before Ash Wednesday, folding on Shrove Tuesday, is referred to as “shrovetide” in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Traditionally pancakes or pastries made, fat and eggs are consumed during this time also in different parts of Latin America and the Caribbean.


In Brazil, the Carnival is an annual festivity celebrated just before Lent. Rio de Janeiro is the most notable city to hold the carnival in it.


Mardi Gras celebrations are common, especially in major cities like Toronto, and Montreal.

United States

Fat Tuesday is not given the status of national day in the United States. However, most of ethnic French regions in the country have notable celebrations by tradition.

Mardi Gras was introduced in North America as a French Catholic rite with the Le Moyne brothers, in the late 17th century, when King Louis XIV commissioned them to watch France’s interest with regard to its claim on the territory of Louisiane, which included what are now the U.S. states of Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana.

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