The celebration of Mardi Gras evolved over the course of a few centuries from a pagan festival marking the end of winter to a Christian celebration around the 4th century, before becoming Donut Day. Learn more about the origin of Mardi Gras.
If this Tuesday, February 13, 2024, all French people know very well what to eat on this day of Mardi Gras, how many actually know what this date corresponds to? Mardi Gras is directly linked to the carnivals that take place around the world. It marks the last day of the festivities, as is the case with the Dunkirk Carnival which celebrates the last day of the “3 Joyeuses”. It is therefore an important date, but few people know why this holiday took this rather incongruous name. However, a few notions of Latin are enough to begin to reveal its meaning: “carnival” comes from the Latin “carnis levare”, an expression which means “to remove, to remove the meat”. And if this expression has remained, transformed over the centuries, it is because it refers to a centuries-old tradition established by Christianity.
Indeed, before Mardi Gras became a pagan holiday that celebrates the end of winter and the rebirth of nature, there was a religious meaning behind the tradition of carnival and donuts. As Easter approaches, Christians practice Lent, a period of fasting and prayer that lasts 40 days, like Jesus’ retreat in the desert. Before this long deprivation, a day of “bombance” preceded the fast: Mardi Gras, the last day on which Christians could eat fat, exhausting all the supplies of eggs and fat that they could not consume during Lent.
No matter today, Mardi Gras is an opportunity to enjoy a new celebration, between Candlemas and the Valentine’s Day, which requires neither devoting your evening to your lover (and giving gifts…), nor spending a day of the weekend with family eating pancakes. Nowadays, those who celebrate Mardi Gras are above all having fun! Indeed, the favorite dishes of this day are donuts, which differ depending on the region! Find below our selection of the best Mardi Gras donut recipes.
In schools this Mardi Gras day, the tradition was for children to dress up and ring doorbells to collect all the ingredients needed to prepare sweet dishes. Many sayings are used on the day of “Mardi Gras”, such as “Mardi Gras in the rain, winter flees” or “Mardi Gras rainy, makes the cellar oily”.