Mardi Gras: Key Aspects

Mardi Gras is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent, the last day of Carnival. Fat Tuesday means the last night before Lent begins. A holiday that marks the end of the seven “fat days” (analogous to Omnivorous Week). It is celebrated in many countries in Europe, in the USA, and in other countries. The name is distributed mainly in French-speaking countries and regions. Among the cities in the United States, the most massive and magnificent celebrations take place in New Orleans. The tradition of Mardi Gras goes back to pre-Christian pagan rituals: seeing off Winter and meeting Spring, electing the king and queen (prototypes of the Father and Mother, images characteristic especially for Celtic culture) of the holiday, burning the totem doll, eating solar symbols.

After the Christianization of Europe, many cults and holidays were assimilated into the new creed. The tradition of celebrating the Carnival is alive in many countries in Europe and America. In Europe, traditional rich (“fatty”) sweets are prepared for the holiday: pies, cream buns, donuts, and pancakes. In the US, the French name Mardi Gras is more common. Initially, it was a costume show to celebrate the arrival of Spring in the French Quarter of New Orleans, which aroused the curiosity of onlookers. Over the years, the Carnival became more and more crowded, with brightly colored horse-drawn floats appearing. The legend tells that the brother of the heir to the Russian throne, Grand Duke Alexei Alexandrovich, who was in love with the American actress Lydia Thompson, followed her to New Orleans just before the holiday. The organizers of the Carnival, having learned about the visit of a person of royal blood, prepared a special platform with the inscription “Rex” (king). Thus, Alexei Romanov turned out to be the king of the holiday.