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