Carnivale and Mardi Gras celebrations are linked to Ash Wednesday, Lent, fast, and abstinence. What are the connections between these events?
Ash Wednesday is the beginning of the forty days known as Lent. The recommended practices of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving become the focus of Lenten activity and ritual. Each of these spiritual practices is aimed at personal discipline as well as continued concern for the other, especially the poor or alienated. Relying on God’s providence and care, no matter how difficult life becomes, is crucial to Lenten spirituality. Fasting was initially stricter, permitting only one simple meal a day without meat, fish, or other delicacies. Such things were not even allowed in the house. So in order to prepare for this in an age of no refrigeration, people gathered to consume whatever was not allowed during Lent. This led to parties or celebrations originally referred to as Carnivale, literally meaning “goodbye to meat,” or Mardi Gras, literally meaning “Fat Tuesday.” The eating and celebrating ended on the Tuesday just before Ash Wednesday.