Traditional Fat Tuesday Treats

Today is Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. This day before the penitential season of Lent begins is also known as Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, and Pancake Day.

There are many traditions and ways to celebrate the day, but the general idea is that it’s a day to eat sweets and treats before the Lenten Season of fasting and penance begins.

Depending on where you live, the treats vary. In New Orleans, where Mardi Gras is celebrated, king cake is the treat of choice. The oval-shaped cake is a tradition for Epiphany in many parts of the world, but in New Orleans, king cakes are eaten from January 6 all the way up to the Tuesday before Lent. Americans across the country observe the day with Louisiana-style recipes like seafood and jambalaya.

The history of Pancake Day goes back many centuries as a way for Christians to use up their milk, eggs, and butter—products that were traditionally not consumed during the Lenten Season. Today, many continue the tradition by eating pancakes for breakfast, lunch, or dinner!

In the Midwest, paczki are the name of the game. This polish pastry is made of fried dough, usually filled with a fruit jelly. The real question is, do you know how to pronounce the name?

In Italy, the Fat Tuesday celebration isn’t just one day—it actually starts with Fat Thursday and extends through five days of feasting on sweet and savory treats. “We don’t do things small here in Italy,” said Ashley Noronha, Relevant Radio® Rome Correspondent. She reported on Morning Air® that the dishes of choice vary across country, but include lasagna, a lemon and ricotta cake, sweet ravioli filled with chocolate, and various pastries including cannoli.

Do you observe any of these traditions? Do you have another special Fat Tuesday tradition in your community or in your home?

After you grab some fun treats for Fat Tuesday, don’t forget to sign up for Lenten Lessons with new bonus videos. The first email arrives tomorrow morning, so don’t delay!


Lindsey is a wife, mother, and contributing author at Relevant Radio. She holds a degree in Journalism and Advertising from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Lindsey enjoys writing, baking, and liturgical living with her young family.