February 20, 2007

Six (or More) Names for the Day Before Lent Begins

In Western Christian traditions, the period of Lent begins 40 days before Easter, starting with Ash Wednesday. The day before Ash Wednesday is known by a variety of names, and is frequently marked by celebrations, such as the famous Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro, and the Carnevale of Venice.

  • Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”): French-speaking countries and most of North America
  • Shrove Tuesday: UK, Ireland, Australia
  • Pancake Day: UK, Ireland, Australia, Canada
  • Sledzi√≥wka (“Herring Day”): Poland
  • Vastenavond (“Fasting Evening”): Netherlands
  • Carnival, Carnaval, Carnevale, Karnival, Karnaval, etc.: Used for the celebration period ending the day before Ash Wednesday in various other parts of the world

2 Responses to “Six (or More) Names for the Day Before Lent Begins”

  1. Michelle said:

    Hi Joe…Just wanted to add one more to the list. I’m from metro Detroit(Michigan)and here, thanks to the Polish influence, the day before Ash Wednesday is known as Paczki Day. Paczki(pronounced poonch-kee) is a deep fried donut, traditionally filled with jelly. They’re very heavy and sweet and after a day of gorging them a person gets sick thinking of sweets for weeks after, and by default is safe from the temptation of sweets through lent.

  2. Trevor said:

    In Munich (and other German-speaking places?), it’s called “Fasching” or “Faschingdienstag” (“Carnival Tuesday”) – see http://good-times.webshots.com/album/557878482puCMEA and http://www.woodford.redbridge.sch.uk/RS/year7/lentshrove.html.