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
February 23rd annually recognizes a well-known food holiday, National Banana Bread Day.
A moist, sweet, cake-like quick bread, banana bread is made with fully ripe, mashed bananas. Some recipes call for yeast, and then the finished banana bread is sliced, toasted and spread with butter.
With the popularization of baking soda and baking powder in the 1930s banana bread first became a standard feature of American cookbooks. It appeared in Pillsbury’s 1933 Balanced Recipes cookbook, too. Banana bread later gained further acceptance with the release of the original Chiquita Banana’s Recipe Book in 1950.
Despite the banana’s arrival in the United States in the 1870s, it took a while before they appeared as an ingredient in desserts.
Early Banana Bread
One early recipe came from The Vienna Model Bakery. It advertised banana bread as something new in the April 21, 1893, edition of St. Louis Post-Dispatch. A new restaurant/bakery chain owned by Gaff, Fleischmann & Company, The Viena Model Bakery was known for its baked goods and was likely one of the first to produce banana bread in the United States. The recipe was made with banana flour, which is made by drying strips of the fruit, then grinding it to a powder. This process had long been used in the West Indies.
In Hawaii during World War I, a surplus of bananas resulted from very few ships available to export the fruit. To prevent waste, alternative uses for bananas were developed. For example, bakeries started incorporating the fruit into their bread.
This recipe was printed in The Maui News on April 12, 1918, for banana bread:
Yeast, coconut milk or water
There was also rationing of staple food items such as flour. Banana flour was a suggested substitute. It was touted as a health food and recommended for a vegetarian diet.
This, of course, is not the quick bread we know today. A recipe submitted by Mrs. Dean in the February 18, 1918, issue of The Garden Island paper for a banana muffin might more closely resemble the quick bread we think of today.
1 cup cornmeal
3-1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
2 tablespoons of sugar
1 sifted banana
3/4 cup rye flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup milk
1 tablespoon Crisco
Mix dry ingredients, add banana, milk and egg and Crisco.
Quick Bread and Muffin
The difference between a quick bread and a muffin in baking has a lot to do with the type of fat and how it is mixed creating a different crumb or texture to the bread.
In 1927, Unifruit (a wholesale produce company) offered a free cookbook called From the Tropics to Your Table. The book offered recipes full of bananas as ingredients including banana muffins and breads. This little cookbook would have been handy during the Great Depression which was just around the corner. At the time, families utilized every scrap of food, including overripe bananas. They cooked overripe bananas, as well as other fruits and vegetables, into breads, stews and other dishes when flavor and texture were not as appealing raw.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalBananaBreadDay
Bake your favorite version of banana bread to celebrate. With so many varieties to try – banana nut, chocolate banana and more – you can make more than one! Invite someone to join you or give a loaf or two away. The celebration is just too good not to share! We like ours warm from the oven with butter!
Use #NationalBananaBreadDay to post on social media.
National Margarita Day on February 22nd rims a glass with salt and serves up a beverage that tastes like the summer sun.
Known to be the most common tequila-based cocktail served in the United States, the margarita is a cocktail that consists of tequila, triple sec and lime or lemon juice. A key ingredient is the freshly squeezed lime juice. In the United States, the most common lime is the thick-skinned Persian lime. When margaritas are made with lemons, they have a much softer taste.
When it comes to sorting out the legends associated with the origin of the margarita, there are many. Two things are certain; the cocktail included tequila, and the bartender edged the rim of the glass with salt. In Mexico, when drinking straight tequila (especially if the quality was bad), the best course of action was to down it in one swallow, suck on a wedge of lime and lick a dash of salt off the back of your hand.
It makes sense that the salt followed the lime and the tequila to the margarita glass. Today, lime is not the only flavor of margarita, and the specialists behind the bar have gotten creative mixing dried herbs, infused sugars and exotic salts to enhance both the presentation of the glass and the flavor of the cocktail.
Margaritas can be served on the rocks (shaken with ice), frozen (blended with ice), or straight up (without ice).
There are many different stories and myths, beginning as early as 1938, as to how and when the margarita was created.
In the December 1953 issue of Esquire magazine, the margarita cocktail was the “Drink of the Month.” The recipe as printed was:
- 1 ounce tequila
- Dash of Triple Sec
- Juice of 1/2 lime or lemon
Pour over crushed ice, stir. Rub the rim of a stem glass with rind of lemon or lime, spin in salt—pour, and sip. (Wikipedia)
The margarita was further popularized with the 1977 release of Jimmy Buffett’s song “Margaritaville.”
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalMargaritaDay
Mix up a margarita at home or as your favorite bartender to make you one. What’s your favorite flavor? Find your Margarita Day deals by visiting our Celebration Deals page.
Let us know using #NationalMargaritaDay to post on social media. Remember, always drink responsibly and never drink and drive
Ingredients2 lbs minced beef or chuck
1 medium yellow onion diced
1/2 medium bell pepper chopped
2 Roma tomatoes diced
Sour cream (we like Daisy in squeezeable application)
Chucky salsa (we like taco bell mild)
1 – 16oz fiesta blend shredded cheese
Guacamole if desired
1 lg bag Tostitos Scoops (you can use any kind of totilla chip you prefer these just make handy cups)
2 pkg McCormick Taco seaoningChopped jalapeno, black olives, melted cheese sauce, are optional.
You can make to many variations to list, including chicken, steak, salsa verde, lime, and anything else you can dream up. I make mine like our family taco night.Farberware 22001 Buena Cocina Deep Nonstick Frying Pan / Fry Pan / Skillet with Lid and Helper Handle – 12 Inch, Black. by Farberware
- In medium pan, brown ground meat.
- Drain excess fat
- Add 1/2 cup water and taco seasoning stirring well to coat meat.
- Continue over medium heat until water has evaporated.
- Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
- Chop or dice vegetables as needed. I found a few great shortcuts if there is no one around to help. You can get shredded iceberg lettuce like the restaurants use in the produce section at your local Walmart. If I don’t have the time the also have pico de gallo instead of dicing onions and tomatoes yourself. They add cilantro and typically Serano peppers.
- Spread chips or cups on big tray.
- Evenly sprinkle with cooked, seasoned meat, vegetables, cheese and toppings as desired.
- Feeding a diverse crew? Set everything up and let them add their choices as they like them. This concept also works well for parties and game days too.
virgin or real margarita and maybe Tres Leche cake for dessert.
On February 15, National Wisconsin Day recognizes The Badger State.
Rich in copper, lead, forest and fertile farmland, Wisconsin became the 30th state. In 1634, French explorer Jean Nicolet was the first European to reach Wisconsin while seeking a Northwest passage to China.
A mining boom, not fur trading, led to the nickname The Badger State. According to oral history, the miners burrowed into the hillsides much like badgers for shelter instead of setting up more permanent homesteads. The first wave of settlers to the area also began the uprooting of the Ho-Chunk, Menominee, Chippewa and other indigenous people.
Early in Wisconsin’s settlement, dairy production began to take root. By the turn of the century, the state became known for its dairy farms and synonymous with cheese.
Mining, dairies, and breweries grew one after the other. An influx of German immigrants in the 1850s brought a new brand of dreamers. Brewers cropped up across Wisconsin satisfying the thirst of The Badger State. As with brewers in other regions of the country, the 18th Amendment of 1919 prohibiting alcohol drowned out much of the competition leaving only a handful after the legislation was repealed in 1933.
From Lake Michigan to Superior and numerous river and lakes in between, Wisconsin offers ample opportunity for water recreation and sport. There are also year-round trails perfect for summer hiking or substantial snow for winter activities.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalWisconsinDay
“Discover a taste of Wisconsin. Join National Day Calendar as we explore the 30th state’s history, people, and culture. Uncover and Travel Wisconsin with all her hidden treasures and amazing landscapes!” Use #NationalWisconsinDay to share on social media.
Ice Age National Scenic Trail – Madison
Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway – Saint Croix Falls
Big Foot Beach State Park – Lake Geneva
Copper Falls State Park – Mellen
High Cliff State Park – Sherwood
Natural Bridge State Park – North Freedom
Whitefish Dunes State Park – Sturgeon Bay
Peshtigo State Forest – Crivitz
Friendship State Trail – Hilbert
Circus World Museum – Baraboo
Wisconsin Maritime Museum – Manitowoc
Wisconsin Historical Museum – Madison
Madeline Island Museum – La Pointe
Wisconsin Automotive Museum – Hartford
National Railroad Museum – Green Bay
Door County Maritime Museum – Sturgeon Bay
Milwaukee Art Museum – Milwaukee
Stonefield – Cassville
Ripley’s Believe It or Not – Wisconsin Dells
Yerkes Observatory – Williams Bay
Glory of the Morning – Chief – (c. 1709 – c. 1832)
Arthur Davidson – Businessman – (February 11, 1881 – December 30, 1950)
Les Paul – Musician – (June 9, 1915 – August 13, 2009)
Valentine’s Day began as St. Valentine’s Day, a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. February 14th first became associated with romantic love during the High Middle Ages as the tradition of courtly love was then flourishing. During 18th century England, this day evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering confectionery and sending Valentine cards.
Mixed opinions prevail regarding who or what was celebrated in mid-February. Some point to martyred saints by the name of Valentine or Valentinus. The most popular story tells of the saint who defied a decree by Emperor Claudius II who outlawed marriage for young men because he believed single men made better soldiers. St. Valentine, preferring young lovers to be wed than have them sneaking around (or believing in the power of love), would marry them in secret. However, it may have been another Valentine who performed the marriages. Either way, at least two of them were beheaded for their actions.
Another possible origin for Valentine’s Day takes us back to a pagan festival called Lupercalia. As a way to discourage participation in the fertility festival, the Christian church placed St. Valentine’s Day in the middle of February.
Since the Renaissance, we’ve been exchanging Valentine’s cards. These handmade missives of romance grew into a more commercial venture by the Victorian era. Today, school children exchange Valentine greetings, too. They prepare for the day by making unique boxes to receive their many hearts, cupids, and pun-filled rhymes.
Chocolates and candy have also become a part of the celebration. While couples tend to be the focus of the day, singles celebrate being single, too. Friends take each other out or reject the overall notion of Valentine’s Day. Dinner and a movie, candlelight, and flowers also fit the bill for couples. It’s one of the busiest days of the year for florists.
HOW TO OBSERVE #ValentinesDay
You can surprise your special someone with flowers, chocolate or a card. Bring a smile to their face with an original poem or homemade meal.
Get Recipes that will impress without spending days in the kitchen. Many can be done at the last minute if needed.
Get something special for your Valentine and use #ValentinesDay to post on social media.International Book Giving Day
VALENTINE’S DAY HISTORY
Credit is traditionally given to Pope Gelasius for declaring February 14th as Saint Valentine’s Day around the year 496 to separate the church from the Roman celebration of Lupercalia, an ancient pagan fertility festival which occurred on February 15th.
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.