Got asked a great question--what is the connection between Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday?
Well, it all goes back to the traditions that take the church calendar seriously. Beginning with Epiphany, when we remember Magi coming to pay homage to the baby Jesus, and ending with Ash Wednesday, some Christians observed a time of great celebration. Part of that celebration was the fun of eating King Cake. My friend, Sandy, who grew up in Louisiana said that growing up they ate King Cake every week between Epiphany and Mardi Gras but now you can usually only buy them for Fat Tuesday. The three days preceding Ash Wednesday were special carnival days where people let loose and prepared for 40 days of fasting and reflection. (Carnival by the way means "Farewell to the flesh") Thus it was "Fat" Tuesday because of all you ate. Mardi Gras is simply French for "Fat Tuesday." However, Fat Tuesday is also known as "Shrove Tuesday" (from the word "shrive" to hear confession) because it was a time to confess sins before the serious fasting of Lent and also as Pancake Tuesday because of the tradition of making pancakes to use up the eggs and flour before the Lenten Fast. You can learn more about Mardi Gras here and to learn more about Lent so this article.