Britain flips pancakes while the rest of the World parties in the streets for Mardi Gras
When: Tuesday before Lent. 12th February 2013. 4th March 2014.
Where: Christian Countries
In South America, New Orleans, throughout Spain and Italy there is Mardi Gras (or Carnival), in England its Pancake day! It seems the whole world is partying in the streets while the English are flipping pancakes!
There are a few different beliefs as to the origins of Carnival. Some say the term “Carnival” comes from the words “farewell to the flesh,” in Spanish. Some believe that the origins of Carnival are in the Ancient Roman festival, Saturnalia, where participants indulged in much drinking and dancing, and it is also believed to have had the first parade floats, called the ‘carrus navalis’.
Either way, now, all over the Christian World, Mardi Gras (Carnival, Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday) is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday and is the last day for extravagances before the 40 lean days of lent in the run up to Easter.
Although Carnival is celebrated throughout Brazil, Rio de Janeiro has long been regarded as the Carnival Capital of the World.
More information on the Rio Carnival website
In Oruro, Santa Cruz, Tarija and La Paz all hold carnavals but the week long carnaval in Oruro is the most famous. The carnaval in Oruro always begins with the diablada or devil dance, a centuries-old dance ritual in monstrously elaborate devil costumes.
Carnival is celebrated throughout Mexico, in some places as lavishly as Rio or New Orleans, whereas others have completely unique ways of celebrating. The largest fiestas take place in Mazatlan and Veracruz.
The Mardi Gras in New Orleans is one of the largest and most famous parties in the world, drawing hundreds of thousands of masked revelers each year to see the flamboyant ‘krewe’ floats and party to sound of the lively jazz tunes. Celebrations start as early as Twelfth Night (the Feast of Epiphany), when the first raucous parade takes place.
Find out more on the New Orleans Mardi Gras website
Italians celebrate “Carnivale” as enthusiastically as anywhere else in the world, with elaborate parades, masquerade balls, music, and partying starting up to a couple weeks before. Playing pranks and getting up to other mischievous deeds are also very common during Carnevale. Venice is one of the best citie for traditional carnival masks and has a spectacular Carnivale all along the picturesque waterways. Viareggio Carnival is another fantastic Italian Carnivale famous for its huge papier-mache caricatures.
In France, Carnival is an occasion for festivals in towns across the nation, but the carnival in Nice is the biggest and most spectacular in the country. At the time of carnival the coastal city literally erupts into one massive party, with parades, flower processions, floats, fireworks and parties making Nice the place to be for carnival in France.
Of all the raucous Spanish fiestas that take place throughout the year, there is perhaps nothing wilder than the Carnival celebrations. Carnival is celebrated throughout Spain, though the most spectacular events are in the Canary Islands, Cadiz and Sitges. The famous Meringue wars and Sardine burying ceremony at Carnaval de Vilanova i la Geltrú is probably the most quirky!
Get flipping those pancakes! On Pancake Day, pancake races are often held in villages and towns across the UK. Shrove Tuesday was once a half-day holiday in England starting at 11:00am with the ringing of a church bell calling people to the Shrove Tuesday service. The pancake race tradition is said to have originated when a housewife from Olney was so busy making pancakes to use up the rich cooking fats that are banned during lent, that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing. She raced out of the house to the church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake. To this day, Pancake race participants (usually women or men dressed as housewives) must race through the streets whilst tossing pancakes into the air, catching them in the pan whilst running.
Mardi Gras falls on the Tuesday before the start of Lent although many of the Carnivals start the weekend before.
Have you been to Mardi Gras yourself? If so, please tell us all about it! You can share your pics and videos on our facebook page too! Or if you just want to say hi, or leave a comment for any other reason, we’d love to hear from you.
Food & Drink
King cake is a traditional cake that is made and served anytime between Twelfth Night (Epiphany) and Mardi Gras. Try these recipes (our own is coming soon).
King cake from Allercipes.com
Chef Emeril’s King cake
Or if you are celebrating with pancakes then try our pancake recipe.
Dates / venues may be subject to change or cancellation. Distances may be straight-line estimates. Please verify information before booking.
Enjoy your trip! And when you’re home we’d love you to come back and tell us all about it!