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TL/DR –

Mardi Gras, which translates to Fat Tuesday in French, is a global celebration that begins on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and is often associated with Carnival. The key difference between Mardi Gras and Carnival is that Mardi Gras refers to a single day, whereas Carnival refers to the entire season beginning on January 6th, known as the Feast of the Epiphany. Celebrated with extravagant parades and costumed festivities, countries like Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Trinidad and Tobago host the longest carnival celebrations, some lasting for several months.


Mardi Gras: A Global Celebration

Mardi Gras, translated as Fat Tuesday in French, is a pre-Ash Wednesday celebration observed globally. The term is often used interchangeably with Carnival, although they differ. While Mardi Gras refers to one specific day, Carnival refers to the entire season of feasting from Jan. 6, known as the Feast of the Epiphany.

The carnival season is marked by weeks-long extravaganzas, featuring parades with colorful floats and costumed participants, festive balls, and other events. Some of the longest celebrations, lasting months, can be found in Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Trinidad and Tobago.

When Christianity became Rome’s dominant religion, local traditions, including Mardi Gras, were integrated with Christian holidays. The celebration thus begins before Lent, a 40-day fasting period until Easter Sunday, according to History.com. As Christianity spread across Europe, so did Mardi Gras celebrations.

Mardi Gras has subsequently gained recognition in other countries like Austria, Brazil, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, and Trinidad and Tobago, as documented by Curious Cuisiniere. French explorers reportedly brought the tradition to North America, says History.com.

In the United States, Southern cities like New Orleans, Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama are known for their Mardi Gras celebrations. Mardi Gras dates vary annually, always falling 47 days before Easter. This year, it falls on Tuesday, Feb. 13.

As 2024 celebrations are underway, here are glimpses of how Mardi Gras revelers are partaking in festivities around the world.

When is Mardi Gras?

Here are the details for Fat Tuesday 2024.

Mardi Gras and Carnival: A Global Tradition


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