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Martedi Grasso – Fat Tuesday, Italy Style


Today is Martedì Grasso, otherwise known as “Mardi Gras,” otherwise known as Fat Tuesday. Whatever it’s called, the idea is the same – it’s the final day before Lent begins, so it’s the last chance Catholics the world over have to gorge themselves silly on everything they’re trying to give up starting tomorrow. Not being Catholic myself (and having essentially no will power to resist sugar of any kind), I can’t imagine going through the massive mood swing that must be – stuffing yourself with chocolate one day, and swearing it off for forty days the very next morning. The body must just scream, “What are you doing to me, you tease? That’s just not cool.” Or something like that.

At any rate, those who aren’t Catholic but who happen to live in Catholic areas get to benefit from all the wonderful things about the days leading up to Lent without having to give anything up afterwards, right? Not so fast. Sure, I can eat chocolate tomorrow if I want to, but there are some treats that only come along during Carnevale and disappear during Lent – only to come back the following year. Shelley talks about her favorite among them – frappe. And you thought that was some kind of mamby-pamby blended coffee drink, didn’t you?

There are a couple more posts about Martedì Grasso from expats living in Italy, both of which I find interesting:

  • Elizabeth talks about the house-blessing tradition, which, in a Catholic country like Italy is an assumption rather than a question. In an Italian film I saw recently, the local priest came to bless the house of the newcomers and was turned away – which quickly became the talk of the town. One local asked incredulously, “Are they atheists?” with the same tone he might have used if he’d said, “Are they child rapists?” I don’t know if this is as prevalent in cities as it is in smaller towns, but it’ll be good to keep in mind if the husband and I make it over there…
  • Jeff isn’t anywhere near Venice, but that doesn’t mean the locals don’t celebrate Carnevale. He’s posted some pictures of last year’s parades, and I must say – those floats are effing amazing. I can’t tell what they’re made of, but they’re amazingly intricate and (amusingly) incredibly political. I can’t imagine political floats getting any sort of warm reception in most parades in the US…

So, happy Martedì Grasso to you!