date, origin and carnival recipes
MARDI GRAS. On February 21, 2023, we eat carnival donuts. The recipe varies according to our regions: bugnes in Lyon, auricles in Provence, braids in Nice… Tour de France of recipes and donut dough, but also the origin of tradition.
[Mis à jour le 7 mars 2022 à 15h22] “Merveilles” in Bordeaux, “Bugnes” in Lyon… On Mardi Gras, we eat fat! It is customary to fill our stomachs with donuts, waffles or pancakes. If the tradition of this festival is to eat fat and in abundance, the origin of Mardi Gras is little known.This celebration passed in a few centuries from a pagan festival marking the end of winter to a Christian celebration around the 4th century, before becoming the day of all the excesses in our society.
Anyone who has become accustomed to celebrating carnival knows it: Mardi Gras takes place on the last day of the festivities. It is therefore an important date, but few people know why this holiday took on this rather incongruous name. However, a few notions of Latin are enough to begin to reveal its meaning: “carnival” comes from the Latin “carnis levare”, an expression which means “to remove, to remove the meat”. And if this expression has remained, transformed over the centuries, it is because it refers to an age-old tradition: that of having a good meal before the deprivations of Lent, this period of fasting and abstinence instituted by Christianity. . We tell you more about the origin of Mardi Gras in this special page, and also about the best donut recipes.
In 2023, Mardi Gras is set for February 21, a frequent situation because Mardi Gras takes place more in February than in March. The next Mardi Gras dates fall either in February or March, but, as the name of the celebration suggests, always on a Tuesday. What are the exact days concerned until 2025? In 2024, Mardi Gras is set for February 13, followed by March 4, 2025 and February 17, 2026.
Easter comes as always 47 days after Shrove Tuesday. This festival is directly linked to the carnivals that take place around the world. It marks the last day of the festivities, as is the case of the Carnival of Dunkirk which celebrates the last day of the “Trois Joyeuses”.
Each year, sweet dishes are distributed in schools, to satisfy the taste buds of gourmet children. The latter were also the first to put their hands in the dough: at the time, children dressed up to ring the doorbell, in order to gather all the ingredients necessary for the preparation of pancakes, as at Candlemas. A recipe that is child’s play: a well of flour, a few whole eggs, butter and (a little) sugar, all gently whisked in with milk. Breton grandmothers recommend adding rum and beer… in moderation!
If all the French will know very well what to eat on this day of Mardi Gras, how many really know what this date corresponds to? For the record, Mardi Gras, this festival with Christian and pagan origins, actually designates the end of the “week of the seven fat days”. In other words, the day preceding the 40 days of fasting in Lent. If you want to know everything about the origin and meaning of this holiday, read below.
Anyone who has become accustomed to celebrating carnival knows it: Mardi Gras takes place on the last day of the festivities. It is therefore a important date, but few people know why this holiday took on this rather incongruous name. However, a few notions of Latin are enough to begin to reveal its meaning: “carnival” comes from the Latin “carnis levare”, an expression which means “to remove, to remove the meat”. And if this expression has remained, transformed over the centuries, it is because it refers to an age-old tradition: that of having a good meal before the deprivations of Lent, this period of fasting and abstinence instituted by Christianity. .
Mardi Gras is the last day of Carnival. The Italian word comes from the Latin “carnis levare” (“to remove the meat”). It refers to the last “fat” meals taken before Lent (we spoke in the 18th century of “Shrove Sunday” or “Shrove Monday” before Shrove Tuesday). In the past, this season corresponded, in a still predominantly agricultural society, to one of the most critical periods. In effect, in February and March, the peasants drew on their last reserves of food stored before or during winter: the ease of storing eggs and butter favored – in the same way as for Candlemas – the tradition consisting in preparing pancakes and waffles during this period.
Pagan rituals existed in the period close to Mardi Gras: they announced or celebrated the rebirth of nature (length of day increasing, beginning of the thaw, then first buds…). It is this reality that was reflected in the Roman calendar, where New Year’s Day was fixed at March 1… Moreover, it was not until the 16th century that New Year’s Day was fixed at January 1st ! With the advent of Christianity and the establishment of the tradition of Lenten fasting (in the 4th century), the festival was transformed into a period of exuberance preceding the rigors of the pre-Easter period.
In the Middle Ages, Lent corresponded to a period of the most restrictive for the population, deprived of dance, celebration, hearty food, sex and pleasure, noted the historian of religions Odon Vallet on France 2 in 2014. this period does not begin, the feast of Mardi gras and its carnival made it possible in particular to elect a “pope of the fools” and to reverse the order of the rational world at the same time as the social order (the rich could disguise themselves as poor , men into women, etc.).
The duality of the period is illustrated by the painting “The Battle of Carnival and Lent” by Bruegel (1559). In a market square, two chariots confront each other. The first is ready: a pot-bellied man straddles a barrel, surrounded by absurd characters and musicians. On the other float, an old woman, towed by monks and nuns. On a wooden board, we notice fish, symbols of Lent (a period when we abstain from meat, excluding seafood). On the inn side (Carnival), we play dice and stuff ourselves with waffles; on the church side (Lent), the veiled figures prostrate…
It is in the independent municipalities of Italy that the carnival as we know it today would have been born. Notably in Venice: from the 11th century, the period preceding Lent gave rise to celebrations encouraged by the authorities, who saw it as an opportunity to strengthen civic spirit. Masks appear in the 13th century: they reinforce anonymity and allow excesses. The social roles are reversed, the games and amusements reinforce the animation of the districts.
The Italian tradition is spreading, particularly in central Europe (Switzerland, West Germany, Belgium, northern France) and then in the Americas. Today, all disguises are allowed. Among the most frequent, those from the Commedia dell’arte, a genre of popular Italian theater that appeared in modern times. Harlequin, good living, wears a suit patched with multiple colors, the obsessed old Pantalone walks around with tight stockings, affirming his virility. As for the coarse Polichinelle, he is distinguished by his protruding belly and his falsetto voice…These costumes, designed in the 16th century, allowed the characters to be immediately recognizable to the public, regardless of the theater group or the place of representation… At this time of the year and in memory of this tradition, the stores offering costumes were taken by storm.
Are you getting into homemade donuts but don’t have much time? We reveal to you the best donut dough recipeeasy and quick (5 minutes of preparation, 15 minutes of cooking!) for homemade donuts that have nothing to envy to regional recipes, with a dough flavored with lemon or orange zest, which is sprinkled with a mixture of sugar and cinnamon or which can be garnished with jam or Nutella… Bon appétit!
Each region has its own Mardi Gras recipe. There is something for all tastes and for all traditions, and of course, each region claims to have the “real” Mardi Gras recipe. It’s up to you to choose from the traditions of our regions of France:
- The waffles authentic, tasty and crispy in the North, with butter of course! You can garnish them with chocolate, jam or icing sugar.
- In Dunkirk, for the last day of the “Trois Joyeuses”, we eat pancakes, waffles, apple donuts or ch’nord crispswith orange zest.
- The Bugnes of Lyonspecialties of ancient Rome, which in Italian are called chiacchiere, and which the French wrongly appropriate!
- The Nice braidspuffed and crunchy at the same time, famous during the Carnival of Nice.
- The Pets Of Nun or beugnets in Franche-Comté made with choux pastry fried in a ball.
- The fruit bats in Strasbourg, with varied geometric shapes, often fluted and flavored with kirsch.
- The wonders from Provence or Gascony, nicely browned and crispy, with orange blossom.
- The crochepettes in the Landes, specially inflated donuts.
- The pellets from Perpignan, or more broadly from Roussillon, light and round.
- The Bottereaux in Vendée, from a leavened and firm dough.
- the beugnot in the Vosges.
- The Headsets in Provence or Corsica.
Do you lack inspiration this year to celebrate Mardi Gras in the rules of gluttony? Find all our best recipe compilations below: