Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Totally True Tuesday - It's Fat Tuesday!

Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras is a special celebration that occurs the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (the beginning of lent).

Why is it called Fat Tuesday? Because this is the last day that eating rich, fatty foods is allowed before the traditional fasting of the Easter season begins. However, the festivities don’t end with just "piggy out." There’s parades with decorated floats, people dressing up in costumes and wearing colourful masks, dancing and sports competitions.

Mardi Gras celebrations happen all over the world. Let’s take a look at how other regions celebrate this unique holiday.

Around a 1000 men and boys of all ages dress up in a traditional costume (this group is called the Gilles). The costume is beautifully decorated with the colours of the Belgian flag - red, yellow and black patterned - with large white lace collars and cuffs. The suit is then stuffed with straw, giving the man inside a hunched appearance. To finish off the look bells are attached to their belts and wooden clogs are worn on the feet.

The festivities start bright and early at 4 am in the morning as the Gilles parade through the streets wearing masks, dancing and throwing blood oranges. However, once afternoon arrives the masks are taken off, but the festivities continue on into the night.

In Sweden the carnival is called Fettisdagen- "fett" (fat) and "tisdag" (Tuesday). On this day people are allowed to indulged in a yummy, cream filled pastry called semla. In fact, traditionally this is the only day they're allowed to eat this mouth-watering treat.


Carnivals, parades and fireworks mark this day in Germany and is called Fastnacht which means "Eve of the Beginning of the Fast." Even though Germany celebrates Fastnacht today with parades and such, many years ago it was different. Farm servants would wear masks and go from house to house collecting such fatty foods as eggs, bacon and sausage to later be consumed. This was a noisy affair, not unlike the current celebrations.

United States:

Not everyone in the USA celebrates Mardi Gras, however, New Orleans is the most notable. Mardi Gras is celebrated for many days prior to "Fat Tuesday." Dancing, costumes and parades all take place in Mardi Gras. People dress in elaborate costumes ride floats and toss what is know as throws to the crowds below. Typical throws include, beads, inexpensive toys, decorated plastic throw cups and specially made aluminum or wooden coins.

Have you or someone you know celebrated Mardi Gras? If so leave a comment or draw us a picture of what you did or saw and we’ll post it.


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