It's that time of year again! Revelers have taken to the streets in New Orleans to ring in Mardi Gras 2012. Today, on Fat Tuesday (aka Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday), the celebration will culminate with big fun. Literally -- if ever there was a day to be a total glutton, this is it.
Still, not every American is lucky enough to be adorned in beads,
wacky makeup, and/or a wild wig, partying on Bourbon Street today, but
that doesn't mean we can't at least appreciate the holiday. Here, seven
facts about the history of Fat Tuesday ... which might help you celebrate, even in some small -- but completely delicious -- way.
- It's the storm before the calm. In countries all
over the world, Fat Tuesday is the "last hurrah" -- aka a great excuse
to stuff your face with carbs and rich foods! -- before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the 40-day observation of and fasting associated with Lent.
- Overshores, it's all about pancakes. In the UK,
Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, they call it Pancake Day or
Pancake Tuesday, as their tradition involves eating pancakes
- In the UK, you can get a workout in while eating your pancakes! Across the pond, pancake races
are held in villages and towns. As legend goes, back in 1444, a
housewife from the town of Olney was so busy making pancakes for
pre-Lenten that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells
ringing for the Shriving service. She ran out of the house to the church
while still carrying her frying pan and pancake. Cute!
- Mardi Gras isn't just one day or one week. While
here in the States, we tend to only hear about the celebration in New
Orleans for a few days out of the year, Fat Tuesday is the final
culmination of an entire Carnival season, which lasts six
weeks! It kicks off on January 6 on a day called "Epiphany," which is 12
days after Christmas and celebrates the Wise Men who brought gifts to
- You can enjoy King Cake for six weeks! The
traditional wreath-shaped, purple, green, and gold-colored cake (see
above) is eaten throughout the Carnival season -- not just on Fat
Tuesday. (Talk about a recipe for weight gain!)
- New Orleans' Mardi Gras is about as old as the U.S. itself. French settlers who ended up in the Louisiana area held pre-Lenten masquerade balls as early as the late 1700s.
- Louisiana has made the holiday official. While Fat Tuesday is celebrated in various states, LA is the only one to make it a legal holiday. Partaaayyy!
Do you plan to celebrate Fat Tuesday today -- if only by chowing down on a carbo-liicous goodie?
on Feb. 21, 2012 at 11:50 AM