Mardi Gras 2022: what is New Orleans event, when is it, Fat Tuesday meaning, why masks and costumes are worn

Mardi Gras, known as Fat Tuesday, is the carnival before Ash Wednesday

Mardi Gras is an international Christian carnival taking place the day before Ash Wednesday.

It is a joyous festival where people celebrate by eating rich fatty food before the ritual Lenten sacrifices and fasting of the 40 days of Lent.

Mardi Gras, which is French for Fat Tuesday, falls on the same day as Shrove Tuesday and has the same celebrations at heart.

But when is Mardi Gras 2022 and how is it celebrated?

When is Mardi Gras 2022?

In 2022, Mardi Gras falls on Tuesday 1 March. The celebration takes place the day before Ash Wednesday, 47 days before Easter and two days after Shrove Sunday.

Mardi Gras is an international annual event, celebrated primarily in the US but carnivals occur throughout Europe including the Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Sweden.

In the UK, Mardi Gras is usually celebrated in the form of Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, which falls on the same date.

How is Mardi Gras celebrated around the world?

Traditions differ around the world, with the most notable being the bright carnivals in the US.

In New Orleans, Louisiana, Mardi Gras is considered to be the period from Twelfth Night to Ash Wednesday. Other cities in the US treat Mardi Gras as a three-day festival before Ash Wednesday.

In the Czech Republic, Mardi Gras is known as Masopust (translating as meat-feast) and the traditions stretch throughout the nation, with the door-to-door processions in Staré Hamry making it to the UNESCO World Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

Germany’s Mardi Gras festivals are only one part of a string of carnivals up to two weeks before Ash Wednesday, known as Karneval, Fasching or Fastnacht.

Traditionally, the start of the carnival celebrations commences from November 11 at 11:11 am.

In Italy, Mardi Gras is known as Martedì Grasso (translates as Fat Tuesday). The Tuesday and the Thursday before (known as GiovedÍ Grasso - Fat Thursday) are the main days of the carnival.

In Northern Italy, the most famous carnivals occur in Venice, Viareggio and Ivrea.

Ivera has the famous Battle of Oranges, where people throw oranges between organised groups. It is the largest food fight in Italy.

In the UK, Mardi Gras is celebrated as Pancake day.

What are the traditions of Mardi Gras? 

Mardi Gras is a loud and colourful celebration of life before the more sombre and religious-oriented Ash Wednesday and has connections to being a communal party. Popular practices are associated with Shrovetide, as the preparation before Lent.

It is traditional to have parades throughout the cities with people adorning costumes in green, purple and gold. In the large carnival parades in New Orleans, costumes take the form of mythical creatures such as fairies, animals and people from myths.

Costumes have transitioned into capes, and coloured feathers, similar to what is seen in the Rio de Janeiro Carnivals.

In Venice, costumes imbued with gold and golden masks are traditional.

How is Mardi Gras being celebrated in 2022?

The past two years have seen Mardi Gras being celebrated differently due to Covid-19 and the surge of new variants.

In 2022, the usual Carnival is expected to return. According to the Eater New Orleans, Mardi Gras is set to return to New Orleans after being cancelled last year due to Covid-19. According to the website, the events of the 2020 festivities were believed to have been Louisiana’s first super spreader event.

In Germany, the Kölner Karneval (Cologne Carnival) has been cancelled due to Covid-19, with many of its carnivals being scaled down or cancelled due to the pandemic, according to The Local.

The Venetian Carnival will resume too according to Carnivaland, but on a smaller scale due to Covid-19 and will run until 1 March 2022.

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. NationalWorld is a new national news brand, produced by a team of journalists, editors, video producers and designers who live and work across the UK. Find out more about who’s who in the team, and our editorial values. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going. You can also sign up to our newsletters and get a curated selection of our best reads to your inbox every day.