Skip to content

Mardi Gras' several names and traditions: How is it celebrated around the world?

Free World Class Education
FREE Catholic Classes
Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, but the festival has many other names as well.

People around the world celebrate Fat Tuesday each year with regional traditions - but did you know it is a celebration with roots in Christianity? 

Mardi Gras is famous for its colors, masks, beads, food, floats and more (Pixabay)!

Mardi Gras is famous for its colors, masks, beads, food, floats and more (Pixabay)!


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Fat Tuesday" is English for the French "Mardi Gras," and is traditionally celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday. During the festivities, one is expected to eat richer, fatty foods before fasting for Lent.

Mardi Gras has become known for its use of beads, masks, and traditional colors of purple, green and gold in the United States, but how is it celebrated elsewhere?

In the UK, Fat Tuesday is called "Shrove Tuesday." It is traditional for people to eat pancakes and participate in pancake-related festivities. 

In Iceland, Fat Tuesday is called Sprengidagur, meaning "Bursting Day." For Sprengidagur, Icelandic families eat split pea soup and salted lamb or horse.

In New Orleans, parades feature dancers, tossed trinkets, decorated coconuts, elaborate floats and plenty of carnival food.

Celebrate Pancake day in England!

Celebrate Pancake day in England (EPA).

Germany celebrates Mardi Gras, called Karneval or Fastnacht, by hosting festivals dubbed "the crazy days." The festival includes three main people - a prince, the virgin and the farmer. The prince leads the festival and protects the virgin and is attended by the virgin.

Another German celebration is "Ladies night out," in which women historically celebrated separately from the men, who were gone at Karneval. The women would drink, steal the key to the city as a symbol of their newfound freedom and are encouraged to kiss any men who wander into the area - or snip their ties off with a sharp pair of scissors!

Mardi Gras in New Orleans.

Mardi Gras in New Orleans (Sean Gardner/Reuters).

In Brazil, Mardi Gras is called Carnival. People dance the Samba, don colorful costumes, buy and sell delicious food, feature detailed floats during parades and more.

In France, Mardi Gras is celebrated with one of the largest carnivals in the world - Carnaval de Nice. This year, 86 floats will be present and will feature the talent of over 1,000 musicians and dancers from around the world. 

It is in France where you can witness memorable theatre group performances, decorated carriages and Bataille des Fleurs, or the "Battle of the Flowers," in which carnival attendees are showered in flower petals.

Italy is considered the birthplace of Mardi Gras celebrations. It is called Martedi Grasso and Venice is known for its intricate mask designs. 

No matter where you go, two things are guaranteed: feasting and celebrating the eve of the 40-day lent.

How do you celebrate?


The California Network is the Next Wave in delivery of information and entertainment on pop culture, social trends, lifestyle, entertainment, news, politics and economics. We are hyper-focused on one audience, YOU, the connected generation. JOIN US AS WE REDEFINE AND REVOLUTIONIZE THE EVER-CHANGING MEDIA LANDSCAPE.


More U.S.

National Catholic Prayer Breakfast hears call for 'Catholic great awakening'

Image of

The National Catholic Prayer Breakfast heard an uncompromising call to holiness and the defense of every human life Tuesday, with speakers ... continue reading

Appeals court: House not required to accept 'secular prayer' at start of work day Watch

Image of

A D.C. federal appeals court has ruled that the chaplain for the House of Representatives cannot be forced to allow a self-described ... continue reading

How Denver's archbishop responded to Columbine Watch

Image of

Twenty years ago, two teenagers opened gunfire outside Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Denver, Colo., (CNA) - Their massacre ... continue reading

Preparing for Pentecost: Easter Monday

Image of

"We should understand, beloved, that the paschal mystery is at once old and new, transitory and eternal, corruptible and incorruptible, ... continue reading

Good Friday: Behold the Wood of the Cross Watch

Image of

This is Good Friday. This is the day when the whole world stands still. We recall the great Sacrifice offered on the second tree on ... continue reading

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Deacon Keith Fournier Hi readers, it seems you use Catholic Online a lot; that's great! It's a little awkward to ask, but we need your help. If you have already donated, we sincerely thank you. We're not salespeople, but we depend on donations averaging $14.76 and fewer than 1% of readers give. If you donate just $5.00, the price of your coffee, Catholic Online School could keep thriving. Thank you. Help Now >

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2019 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.

Catholic Online is a Project of Your Catholic Voice Foundation, a Not-for-Profit Corporation. Your Catholic Voice Foundation has been granted a recognition of tax exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Federal Tax Identification Number: 81-0596847. Your gift is tax-deductible as allowed by law.