Mardi Gras – Carnival Season

Yesterday the French celebrated Mardi Gras – Carnival Season – Shrove Tuesday.

Carnaval multivolor de la frontera

Mardi Gras street Carnival

Mardi Grasis a festival of Christian origin, and if the French are predominantly Catholic only a minority practices regularly.

However, all enjoy celebrating the old traditions which are an opportunity to disguise and party with family and friends – and all disguises are allowed!

No surprise that  the Carnival of Mardi Gras should be one of the most respected celebrations in France!

Venetian masks - shop in Venice

Mardi Gras Carnival masks

Originally Mardi Grasis the last day of a full week of celebration before Lent, the forty days of fasting that lead to the celebration of Easter and during which no meat nor dairy products should be eaten.

Carnival is the evolution of Levare Carne (word to word: “remove” the meat from the meal).

Venice-masks

Carnival masks

Meat was not a sort of food they could store at home anyway, but what to do with the butter, milk and eggs , these perishable products that were part of their daily diet? Easy: they made crepes -pancakes-  for Mardi Gras!

In fact they emptied their larder, a sort of massive Spring cleaning in the kitchen!

But forty days without meat and dairy-free, that was long!

Street carnival

So people just went a bit wild before attacking such a period of austerity and spent a full week eating whatever they fancied and Mardi Gras, the last day of this seven-day celebration, was the Grand Finale!

Some were naughty and went in disguise to knock on their neighbours’ doors and begged for more pancakes-crepes!

Strawberry on pancake

Crepe-Pancake

Today, only practicing French Christians respect Lent. The rest celebrate the best, Mardi Gras, when they can disguise and have a great feast!

Source photos: Wikimedia Commons:  Mardi Gras street Carnival, Mardi Gras Carnival masks,  Carnival masks, Street Carnival, Crepe-Pancake

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About the author

DeeBee
I am French Parisienne and lived in Asia for nearly 20 years before settling in the UK 3 years ago. I have an interest in everything and every culture and am an avid reader. French linguistics is my "specialty" but I have a passion for history and try to mingle them. Humour is very important to me, I love writing, talking, laughing, exchanging ideas, learning more from others... the world is full of fascinating people! I never leave my home without my camera, there is always something unusual, beautiful or strange to capture. I like to pay attention to details, to the world of the "small", a parallel world if you take the time to look for it...And above all, I love my country of birth, France.
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2 Comments

  • I liked reading this. The Mardi Gras I know best, I never would have guessed has religious foundations! I think, maybe, I learned that it was related to Lent back in French class, but since then it got pushed out of my mind by mardi gras beads and Bourbon St.

  • To be honest, I discovered that not very long ago. French traditions seem to be essentially based on old religious ones, no surprise though when you know how much the Church tried to codify people’s lives in the past!
    My dream is to go the La Nouvelle Orleans for the carnival! It looks like a fantastic celebration! Another thing to add to my list of Things to Do!