Carnival/Shrove Tuesday in United Kingdom, for the years 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Shrove Tuesday and Carnival History
Carnival/Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, and Fat Tuesday all have origins in celebrations surrounding Holy Easter and the Easter season.
The History of Carnival/Shrove Tuesday
Carnival/Shrove Tuesday have a long history with origins in Holy Easter and the Easter season. Shrove Tuesday, comes from the word shrive, an Old English word meaning to impose a penance. This penance is self-imposed during Lent, roughly six weeks in which many Christians fast and prepare for Holy Easter. Before this period of fasting begins is a time of celebration, or carnival, culminating in the final celebratory day known as Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday.
Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras
The last day of Carnival always falls on a Tuesday and is called Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday or Pancake Day. It's the last day before Lent and therefore the day to use up foods that will go to waste during Lenten fasting. Mardi Gras, which today has wild associations, simply means Fat Tuesday in French. In England, Fat Tuesday is known as Pancake Day, because making pancakes was a way to use up milk, eggs and sugar before Easter. The following day, Ash Wednesday, marks the start of Lent and the Holy Easter season.
Today Carnival/Shrove Tuesday have less connection to Easter than before. Although the origins of the carnival are in Easter, Carnival/Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras and Pancake Day are mostly cultural celebrations now. Mardi Gras and Pancake Day are mostly about parades and eating pancakes. Although some Christians still fast before Holy Easter, most people have forgotten the original purpose of celebrating Carnival/Shrove Tuesday as a last hurrah before Holy Easter. Whether or not you celebrate Easter, if you attend a Mardi Gras carnival this year, you now know about it's fascinating history.