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The literal translation of the French words Mardi Gras is “Fat Tuesday.”  Fat Tuesday is a festival that is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday.  Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, the 40 day period leading up to Easter.  People often give up meat and other special foods for Lent, to show that they are sorry for anything they may have done wrong.  On the day before Lent, Mardi Gras, people celebrate, eating all of the food they will fast from (go without) for the next 40 days.

Since Easter is a movable feast day, the date of Mardi Gras changes from year to year.  Mardi Gras may be as early as February 3rd or as late as March 9th.