The last day of Carnival and the day before for Ash Wednesday, Fat Tuesday is the intertwining of a period festivals and feasts that lead to a time of fasting and reflection. Also known as Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras, this enduring celebration has many traditions and deep roots around the world.
Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) dates back to an ancient Roman festival honoring the deities Lupercalia and Saturnalia which took place in mid-February. When Christians arrived in Rome, they incorporated the festival into Lenten preparations.
For centuries, this solemn feast prepared Christians for the season of Lent and used up valuable meat and supplies they would be abstaining from in the days to come. Traditions surrounding the day have changed through the ages. Through time and culture, the practices of Lent and Carnival, Mardi Gras, and Shrove Tuesday have varied and become incorporated into regional customs.
In the United Kingdom, Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Day. Pancakes are the perfect menu item when the future includes abstaining from fats, eggs, and sweets! In Russia, they celebrate the entire week during Shrovetide as Pancake Week.
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