This Tuesday, March 21st, is Mardi Gras!!! We will be celebrating all night with music by Chalula, beads for everyone (no need to embarrass yourselves), killer beers and great Cajun and Creole food. Get on down and enjoy this traditional day of eating and drinking.
Now, you might not know it from looking through ad's in The City Weekly, but Mardi Gras actually translates to Fat Tuesday. Notice the key usage of the word Tuesday. This means that the holiday occurs on TUESDAY not Friday or Saturday. Of course in Utah we find ourselves celebrating Cinco de Mayo on whatever Saturday or Friday is closest to the Fifth; Independence day on the 4th unless it is a Sunday and then we go to Friday or Saturday using some method I have no understanding of. Same with Halloween where kids use the whole weekend if it falls on a Sunday. At The Bayou we will always celebrate Mardi Gras properly on Tuesday.
Anyway, getting that rant out of my system, Mardi Gras is a day of celebration in Anglican and Catholic traditions, the last day of eating rich, fatty food and drinking before the fasting of the Lenten season which begins on Ash Wednesday (the day after Mardi Gras). While many consider the whole period of festivities leading up to that special Tuesday as "Mardi Gras" really is it more appropriate to call that time Carnival.
If you have ever wondered how the date is calculated (considering that it seems to swing wildly from year to year) here is the forumla: Ash Wednesday is 46 days before Easter. Easter is the Sunday following the full moon following the vernal equinox. However, the vernal equinox and full moon are not determined astronomically (that would make too much sense) but a theoretical model called the Ecclesiastical Full Moon is used. It is long and convoluted process with differences depending on which orthodox group you follow. You can read the whole messy system on wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computus