A Guide to Fat Tuesday, Also Known as Mardi Gras

What is Fat Tuesday? 

Fat Tuesday, also known as Shrove Tuesday, Shrovetide, or Mardi Gras, marks the final day of Ordinary Time before the solemn season of Lent commences on Ash Wednesday. This day is synonymous with celebration, often seen as the last opportunity to indulge in rich and indulgent foods before the penitential period of fasting and abstinence during Lent. Fat Tuesday is a time for revelry and festivities, with people coming together to enjoy sumptuous meals, delicious treats, and vibrant parades. It serves as a joyful farewell to the carefree days of Ordinary Time, emphasizing the imminent spiritual journey of self-reflection and preparation for Easter. 

When is Fat Tuesday?

Fat Tuesday this year is on February 13, 2024.

What is the Meaning of Fat Tuesday?

The traditional name of Fat Tuesday is Shrove Tuesday. Shrove is derived from the word shrive and means absolve. Catholics should spend time examining their conscience as they prepare for the penitential season of Lent. It’s a great time to reflect on areas where spiritual growth is needed. Catholic Churches burn the palms used during the previous year’s Palm Sunday in preparation for the ashes distributed on Ash Wednesday the next day.

This day is commonly called “Fat Tuesday” because it’s tradition to eat foods made with butter, eggs, and fat, such as meat and desserts. It’s a day of celebration before many Catholics give up these delicacies for the duration of the Lenten season.


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What are the Mardi Gras Colors and Their Significance?

The colors purple, green, and gold are associated with Mardi Gras celebrations. Purple represents justice, green represents faith, and gold represents power. These colors were chosen by the Rex, the King, of the Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, Louisiana in 1892. So while it’s fun to decorate with these colors there is not a connection within Catholicism.

Traditional Fat Tuesday Meals

While tasty foods are traditional on Fat Tuesday they can vary from culture to culture. Donuts and pancakes are common, as are Polish Pączki. Mardi Gras King Cakes are also popular - these cakes are iced with purple, green, and yellow sugar and typically have a small plastic baby hidden somewhere in the cake. Whoever eats the piece of cake with the baby inside is responsible for bringing the king cake to the next year’s celebration! In the United States, New Orleans is known for its huge Mardi Gras celebration and parade, so many families eat jambalaya, gumbo, étouffée, red beans and rice, and other Cajun dishes. 

Whatever your culinary preferences, Fat Tuesday is a fun opportunity to gather with friends and family and celebrate together.

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