Origin of Mardi Gras
historical usage of Mardi Gras
The day is so named from the French custom of parading a fat ox ( bœuf gras ) during the celebration of the holiday (one wonders what became of the ox). French Mardi comes from the Latin phrase Martis diēs “Mars’s day,” so named after Mars, the planet and deity of the third day of the week according to Hellenistic astrology. Gras is problematical: it ultimately derives from Latin crassus “thick, stout, plump,” and one would therefore expect cras, but French has gras, Italian grasso, Spanish and Portuguese graso, all showing g-, not c-.
Words nearby Mardi Gras
MORE ABOUT MARDI GRAS
What is Mardi Gras?
The term Mardi Gras also refers to the festival that takes place on this day and in the days (or even weeks) leading up to it. This festival is especially associated with the U.S. city of New Orleans, where it is prominently celebrated. In other places, this festival is called Carnival.
Lent is the season of fasting and penitence that precedes Easter in some branches of Christianity. Mardi Gras is part of a tradition of indulging before the Lenten fast, but it is not a Christian holiday.
When is Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras happens 47 days before Easter Sunday. (Lent is often considered a period of 40 days, but it actually consists of 40 weekdays.) Since Easter Sunday moves every year, Mardi Gras can fall between February 3 and March 9.
Mardi Gras 2022 will fall on March 1.
In some places, Mardi Gras celebrations start on the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6.
More information and context on Mardi Gras
Because Lent is a time of fasting and abstaining, the period leading up to it has become, for some, a time for indulging before the Lenten fast begins. This is reflected in different names for the day before Lent and the festivals associated with it, including Mardi Gras.
The first records of the term Mardi Gras come from the late 1600s. It is taken directly from French, in which it means “Fat Tuesday.” This is thought to be a reference to the French custom of parading a fat ox through the streets during the celebration of the holiday. However, it has become associated with the tradition of eating rich foods on this day to indulge before the fasting and abstaining of Lent begins for those who practice such things (though, in many cases, Mardi Gras is celebrated by non-Christians or those who do not observe Lent).
The origin of the word carnival is also a reference to the Lenten fast. It comes from the Old Italian carnelevare, meaning “a removing of meat.”
In some Christian traditions, the day before Ash Wednesday is called Shrove Tuesday, which is sometimes informally referred to as Pancake Day due to the tradition of eating pancakes on that day in order to use up rich foods like eggs and butter before Lent begins.
There are many traditions associated with the celebration of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, including certain foods and parades with lavishly decorated floats and flamboyant costumes.
What are some terms that often get used in discussing Mardi Gras?
How is Mardi Gras discussed in real life?
Mardi Gras is often associated with parties, parades, and other indulgences, especially in New Orleans, but celebrations vary from place to place and from person to person.
A beautiful morning in @NOLACityPark where Mardi Gras will come alive tonight when Floats in the Oaks opens. Wonderful to see so many krewes and their signature floats represented. pic.twitter.com/vVJw3KwGx4
— Dominic Massa (@DMassaWYES) February 4, 2021
— Brandon Ore (@orebrandonm) June 19, 2020
— Paris je t'aime (@ParisJeTaime) February 25, 2020
Try using Mardi Gras!
True or False?
Mardi Gras falls on the same day every year.
How to use Mardi Gras in a sentence
Whenever I shifted in my chair, the ropes of Mardi Gras beads would shimmy.Was a three-week trip to New Orleans for work or vacation? Both.|Andrea Sachs|February 19, 2021|Washington Post
A lot of people getting together for Mardi Gras balls, getting together in close spaces, eating and drinking and chatting.
Mardi Gras, held on February 25 of last year, was one of New Orleans’ last normal moments before the pandemic.
Those fact that those samples were so closely related, the researchers found, “strongly suggests” that a single person, most likely from Texas, set off a cascade of transmissions that ended up driving the outbreak during and after Mardi Gras.
People began to wonder if the flu-like symptoms they’d experienced in the days after Mardi Gras were more than just an annual bug.
That is the sense of the Saturnalia, of Mardi Gras and of these moments of entertainment.
When the host is in a festive mood, entering customers are given strings of Mardi Gras beads.The Ultimate Southern Cheeseburger Created in South Carolina|Jane & Michael Stern|August 10, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Larry Bannock was the chief of a Mardi Gras Indian tribe in New Orleans.Mardi Gras Indian Chief Larry Bannock’s Final Ride|Jason Berry|May 16, 2014|DAILY BEAST
When he died, all the black Mardi Gras Indians came out and kissed the ground in front of his house.
He started a group called the Hawkettes, which in 1954 recorded "Mardi Gras Mambo," a song still popular around New Orleans.
Our subject being Mistral and not Félix Gras, a passing mention must suffice.Frdric Mistral|Charles Alfred Downer
Afraid he got poisoned with some foie gras he ate—jolly good tack I call it—I'll have some more, please.In Accordance with the Evidence|Oliver Onions
Bone two dozen larks, season, and put into each a piece of pt de foie gras (truffled).
Take a dozen larks, bone and stuff them with pt de foie gras, and make them as nearly as possible of the same size and shape.
Take out the trail, and add to it either three fowl livers or their equivalent in pt de foie gras.
British Dictionary definitions for Mardi Gras
Word Origin for Mardi Gras
Cultural definitions for Mardi Gras
An annual festival held in France on the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday” — meaning it is the last opportunity to eat rich food before the fast of Lent begins. It is related to celebrations elsewhere, called “carnivals,” from the Latin words carne and vale, “meat” and “farewell,” meaning a farewell to meat before the abstinence of Lent.