Fat Tuesday is more commonly known as Mardi Gras and takes place the day before Ash Wednesday. While it has become synonymous with elaborate masks, king cakes, and colorful beads, it wasn’t always such a celebration.
Historically, Fat Tuesday was known as “Shrove Tuesday” and symbolized a day of repentance and preparation among Western Christians as they got ready for Lent, a time to voluntarily give up certain foods and make way for spiritual growth.
As time went on, repenting was joined by the revelry of the feast before the fast; meals of meat, dairy, and eggs filled dinner plates and kitchen tables. Eventually, repenting was replaced by rejoicing almost entirely. Nowadays, Fat Tuesday is known for its rich food, bottomless drinks, parades, costumes, traditions, parties, and general debauchery.
It’s celebrated by many, regardless of whether they plan to observe Lent the next morning.
When is Fat Tuesday?
The date is never set in stone because it’s tied to Easter (and Easter is based on the Jewish calendar and dicated by solar and lunar cycles that shift each year). Easter always takes place after the first full moon following the Spring equinox.
Fat Tuesday lands 46 days before Easter Sunday; it can be as early as February 3rd or as late as March 9th. This year, it takes place on March 1st.
Mardi Gras in New Orleans
While Fat Tuesday is recognized in various parts of the world, there’s no denying the tie between Mardi Gras and New Orleans; the Big Easy makes it hard to ignore the celebration.
The link between Mardi Gras and New Orleans dates back to 1699 when two French explorers made their way to Louisiana, held a celebration, and called their landing spot, Pointe du Mardi Gras. French settlers and other New Orleans residents continued marking the holiday with colorful and ornate expressions and festivities that grew more lavish each year.
Brazil, Germany, Canada, France, Italy, and several places around the globe host large Mardi Gras celebrations, but Louisiana, Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama are the only US states that recognize it as an official holiday.
Local Fat Tuesday Events
Colorado might not be home to an over-the-top Mardi Gras festival, yet there are several ways to celebrate Fat Tuesday, including the following:
Many Colors of Mama Roux: This musical event merges two separate bands to offer a New Orleans vibe and an eclectic lineup of trumpets, percussions, guitar, organs, and more. It takes place at the Dairy on the evening of March 1st.
Louisville Underground: Louisville Underground is hosting its own Mardi Gras celebration with the brass band Funk Knuf. It takes place on February 26th, the Saturday before Fat Tuesday. The venue features a full bar and local pizza.
Outworld Brewing: Outworld Brewing is hosting an all-day Fat Tuesday party (from noon to midnight on March 1st). Come enjoy cajun food, exclusive cocktails, music, and special edition trivia.
You don’t have to be French, Christian, or in New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras. Put on your best beads and your sequin mask; Fat Tuesday is a wonderful time to fill up on life.