Mardi Gras is known by many names around the world — Carnival, Carnaval, Carnevale, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, Fastnacht, Fastelavn, and Maslenitsa. The holiday is celebrated in many different ways around the globe, but eating well is a common theme.
We here at Organo Gold are big fans of any holiday that centers around food — because what pairs better with your chosen Mardi Gras feast that a delicious cup of OG gourmet coffee, organic tea or delicious hot chocolate?
Here are a few fun facts about the history of Mardi Gras, and how it is celebrated all around the world:
• In the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox traditions, Mardi Gras is considered the last call for the faithful to eat meat and other rich foods before Lent — a six-week period of penitence and fasting before Easter.
• Mardi Gras translates literally from the French as “Fat Tuesday”, with the following day, Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of Lent.
• In many countries, including Ireland, England, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, Mardi Gras is commonly known as “Pancake Day”, and people celebrate by eating pancakes and participating in pancake themed activities.
• The colors of Mardi Gras are purple (justice) gold, (power), and green (faith). It is said that the colors were officially chosen to represent the Mardi Gras parade in 1872, in honor of the visiting Russian Grand Duke Alexis Alexis Alexandrovich Romanoff, whose house colors were purple, green and gold.
• Mardi Gras, known in Brazil as Carnival, is one of the most renowned holidays in Brazil. The country attracts an estimated 70% of its annual tourism during the Carnival period.
• In the Belgian city of Binche, the Mardi Gras festival is one of the most important days of the year. Around 1000 participants dance throughout the city from morning until past dusk, while traditional carnival songs play throughout the streets.
• In the United States, the city of New Orleans has become the undisputed center of the Mardi Gras celebrations. An economic impact study released by the University of New Orleans estimates that Mardi Gras generates over $840 million annually.
• The Quebéc Winter Carnival in Canada was introduced by 19th-century French transplants as a Mardi Gras festival, and remains today as a popular celebration of of Québécois culture. The 17-day event includes the construction of an ice palace at the Place de l’Assemblée Nationale, snow sculpture competitions that attract artists from around the world, parades with floats and dance troupes, and plenty of hearty food. Beaver Tails are a popular menu item, but vegetarians or squeamish eaters fear not — a Beaver Tail is actually a fried-dough treat topped with cinnamon and sugar!