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.
Carnival & Mardi Gras
While the French didn’t originate the medieval feast, they did put their stamp on it. From parades to beignets and colorful masks, the last day of Carnival is full of elaborate costumes and lavish food sure to hold the revelers over through a long fast. During the 16th century, their ancestors celebrated Boeuf Gras (fatted calf) which included a tradition of parading a bull decorated with flowers through the city. The decorated animal is followed through the streets by a retinue of colorfully dressed attendants and bands playing unusual instruments. There was even a Boeuf Gras Society in Mobile, Alabama at one time. (See history below for more information.)
New Orleans holds the crown for Carnival and Mardi Gras celebrations in the United States. While the city is filled with French flavor and style, its culture is an eclectic infusion of many cultures. Colorful King Cake and thick, savory muffuletta sandwiches only suggest the indulgence possible on Fat Tuesday. Regional specialties like Etouffee, Po’boys, and jambalaya all add to the atmosphere of the day.
And while we satisfy our cravings, let’s not forget our beverages. Signature creations from New Orleans hit the spot. Be sure to try the Sazerac made with absinthe or the citrus cocktail Arnaud’s Special. For a smooth drink with some punch mix up a Vieux Carré made with whiskey, cognac, and sweet vermouth. But you don’t have to have a cocktail to enjoy the feast! Fat Tuesday has plenty of beverages full of refreshing flavor. Coffees, sodas, and shakes of every flavor can be found.
HOW TO OBSERVE #FatTuesday
Join in festivals around the country or have your own Fat Tuesday feast! Share your favorite traditions by using #FatTuesday, #MardiGras, #ShroveTuesday
In Pensacola as we are so close to both Mobile, AL and New Orleans, there are lots of pardades, parties, balls, and more. Get ready for beads, dancing, and King Cake.
At the end of the fun try coming home to my Crockpot New England Calm Chowder. As today this dish is celebrated nationwide today too.
FAT TUESDAY HISTORY
The roots of the celebration have been woven together for centuries from medieval spring festivals and feasts that were based on the Christian calendar. Fat Tuesday is celebrated around the world in its various forms all of which harken back to these roots of spring festivals and religious fasting in preparation for the Holy day of Easter.
Credit for bringing Mardi Gras to America goes to French explorers Pierre Le Moyne Sieur d’Iberville and Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville. In 1699, d’Iberville reached the mouth of the river on Shrove Tuesday near what is now Louisiana and named it Pointe du Mardi Gras.
Thanks to their establishment of Fort Louis de la Mobile, modern-day Mobile, Alabama lays claim to the first Mardi Gras celebration on American soil in 1703.
When de Bienville established Nouvelle Orleans in 1788, Mardi Gras celebrations reportedly began immediately. In 1875, Louisiana declared Fat Tuesday an official holiday
While February 18 is observed annually as National Drink Wine Day, it would be a shame to celebrate only one day a year. Perhaps this day is just a reminder to drink wine.
Wine does have its benefits after all. Moderate drinkers of wine have lower risks of liver disease, type II diabetes, certain kinds of cancers, heart attack and stroke. It also can reduce the bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase the good (HDL).
Drinking wine includes other benefits as well. When paired with the right meal, it enhances the flavors of spices, fruits, and sauces. A glass of wine helps relax us. Learning about wine keeps our minds sharp, too. Since the fruits, regions and the making of wine have such a complex story, those who delve into find themselves traveling to learn more.
It can help if you’re an Outlander fan you’ve seen the season 5 premier. Maybe more than once, a glass of wine can help you cope with the wait till the next episode. If you find that the wine is not enough, Sam might suggest Sassanach Whiskey. I’m still trying to get it.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalDrinkWineDay
Since February 18th is also National Crab-Stuffed Flounder Day, may we suggest a fresh, fruity white wine pairing the celebrations together?
With so many wine varietals a wine tasting would be a perfect way to celebrate. Visit a vineyard or host one of your own. Raise a toast to your favorite wine and let us know which one it is.
Always drink responsibly and try a new wine. Use #NationalDrinkWineDay to post to social media.
Observed each year on February 14th, National Donor Day (also known as National Organ Donor Day) is a day to increase awareness about organ donation and the lives that can be saved. In the United States, more than 120,000 people are waiting for a life-saving organ donation.
Give the gift of Life.
The observance focuses on five different types of donations: Organs – Tissues – Marrow – Platelets – Blood. Many nonprofit health organizations sponsor blood and marrow drives and organ/tissue sign-ups across the nation. Approximately every two seconds, there is someone in the U.S. who needs blood, which translates to the need for over 41,000 daily donations.
Each type of donation saves lives. While blood, platelets, tissue, marrow, and some organs may be donated at any time, most organs are donated upon death. A single donor can save up to 8 lives and help more than 75 people.
Some blood donors have been making donations as young as the age of 17. They can donate a pint of blood every 53 days. One pint of blood can save up to three people. If you’ve never thought about donation, you’re of the 17 percent of non-donors. However, only 37 percent of the population of the United States is eligible to donate blood.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalDonorDay
If you’ve received the gift of an organ, tissue, marrow, platelets or blood, share your story. Several year’s ago blood transfusions saved my life. I wish I could donate.
Use #NationalDonorDay to post on social media.
NATIONAL DONOR DAY HISTORY
National Donor Day was started in 1998 by the Saturn Corporation and its United Auto Workers partners, with the support of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and many nonprofit health organizations.
Every year on February 4th, World Cancer Day seeks to spread awareness for cancer. This day also focuses on the prevention, detection, and treatment of cancer.
Every year, 17 million new cases of cancer throughout the world are diagnosed. Cancer will be fatal for nearly 10 million of those who receive this news. By the year 2040, it is estimated that there will be 27.5 million new cases of cancer. The most common cancers include lung, female breast, bowel, and prostate.
Despite the prevalence, it is possible to reduce the risk of getting cancer. According to the Mayo Clinic, these things can help to prevent many types of cancer:
- Avoid tobacco or stop using it
- Eat a diet that consists of fruits, vegetables, and limited amounts of processed meat
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Do at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day
- Protect yourself from the sun
- Never have unprotected sex
- Keep up with routine medical screenings
Sadly, it’s not just adults who get cancer. This deadly disease also affects children. About 300,000 children around the world are diagnosed with cancer each year. In the United States, cancer is the most common cause of death by disease for children. Some of the most common types of childhood cancers include leukemia, brain cancers, lymphomas, and solid tumors. Many childhood cancers do not have a known cause. Early diagnosis and access to treatment greatly increases survival.
Certain countries have higher cancer rates than others. Australia has the most new cases of cancer. Every year there are 468 new cases for every 100,000 residents. The United States ranks fifth on the list. Each year, there are about 352 new cases per 100,000 residents. Other countries that have high rates of cancer include New Zealand, Ireland, Hungary, Belgium, France, and Denmark.
HOW TO OBSERVE #WorldCancerDay
This day is organized by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC). Events on this day include free cancer screenings, educational discussions on recognizing the signs and symptoms of cancer, training public health officials on how to detect cancer, and live events on social media. A provider of cancer services, The Icon Group, encourages its staff, partners, and loved ones to spread messages of hope on paper butterflies to those who need it most.
- Reach out to someone who has been diagnosed with cancer
- Learn about the ways to prevent the risk of cancer
- Donate to a cancer support or cancer research organization
- Read about famous cancer survivors like Colin Powell, Olivia Newton-John, and Robin Roberts
- Wear a lavender ribbon to spread cancer awareness (there are also other colors that represent specific types of cancer)
- If you’ve been affected by cancer, share your story to encourage others.
My father lost his battle with prostrate cancer in January 2011. If Cancer has touched your life it is important that we continue the search for cures.
Whatever you do on this day, be sure to share it on social media with #WorldCancerDay.
WORLD CANCER DAY HISTORY
The Union for International Cancer Control established World Cancer Day on February 4th, 2000. The day was founded in Paris at the World Summit Against Cancer for the New Millennium. Today, there are over 900 World Cancer Day events held in 127 countries.
Don’t forget International Childhood Cancer Day is February 15th.
Celebration of Life Day on January 22nd honors the children and grandchildren who bring joy to our lives. The day is a reminder that each child and each life is to be held as a precious gift with the highest respect and dignity.
Children grow up so quickly. They’re constantly learning new things and changing daily. Each day they delight us with their simple wisdom and observations. By spending time with children and demonstrating the care and love they deserve, we celebrate their life.
HOW TO OBSERVE #CelebrationOfLifeDay
Celebrate the children in your life. Share the day with a child, grandchild, niece or nephew. We’ve provided several suggestions.
- Read a book with a child.
- Get down on the floor and put a puzzle together.
- Build something with your child.
- Invite all the cousins to play board games.
- Bake cookies and decorate them. Even the smallest child will learn something.
- Make popcorn and watch a movie.
- Tell the story of how Grandma and Grandpa met.
- Get out the art supplies and create.
- Visit a museum.
- Show a teen how to change a tire.
- Give a driving lesson.
- Paint your fingernails together.
- Everybody give the dog a bath.
- Go swimming.
- Make balloon animals.
- Sing Karaoke
Use #CelebrationOfLifeDay to post on social media.