Fat Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday. Carnivale. Mardi Gras. Pancake Day.

Fat Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday. Carnivale. Mardi Gras. Pancake Day.

By: Heather Easterday

Madi Gras

The day goes by many names relative to the culture or country it is celebrated within, but they all refer to the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Lent is the 40 days of fasting practiced by Christians, Catholics, and Orthodox Christians, leading up to Easter Sunday. Generally speaking, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is a day for people to have a last taste of decadent foods, alcohol, and imbibe in extravagant parties and celebrations. Fasting for 40 days can mean different things to each person, but the day before is recognized as a feast day and celebrated with parties, parades, masks, dancing, and of course, all the food and drink 

In the UK, the day is referred to as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday.  The day is traditionally meant for Anglo Saxon Christians to Confess their sins, or to be “shriven” of their sins. The day is also used as the last day to use up the items that are forbidden during Lent. Eggs and Fats are primarily on the fast list, and pancakes were the perfect way to use up those ingredients. 

Traditionally, Catholics will fast from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all the Fridays of Lent. This tradition is because meat was expensive, and considered a luxury. Fish is allowed on Fridays during Lent and often where “Fish Fridays” originated from. 

Orthodox Christians will fast from meat, meat by-product, poultry, eggs, and dairy for all 40 days. Many people will choose an additional item they truly enjoy eating or drinking for lent. Chocolate, sugar, and alcohol and common items for people to abstain from during Lenten season. Crustaceans are not considered meat or fish, so often, those who abstain from meat and fish will incorporate shrimp, lobster, or crab into their regular diets until Easter. Have you ever noticed major seafood restaurant chains will often run Seafood “fests” or deals right after Fat Tuesday leading up to Easter? Now you know why! 

Modern Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, and Carnivale are evolutions of their religious origins, and are welcoming of all who enjoy the feast and parties, regardless of faith or religion. 

Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras, Carnivale, Shrove Tuesday) is celebrated in incredibly diverse traditions around the world. France celebrates Mardi Gras as does New Orleans, which was heavily settled and culturally influenced by the French, among many others! Mardi Gras uses gold, green and purple color scheme in parades, and other party favors. Mardi Gras Indian tribes, King Cakes, alcohol, music, throwing beads from floats and balconies into the crowd,  and parades are traditional staples of New Orleans festivities, and are often heavily influenced by the cultures that settled and shaped the City of New Orleans. Mardi Gras parades often begin as early as January 6th for the Mardi Gras Season. Each parade is sponsored by a special interest group, or a Krewe. Find more info about New Orleans Mardi Gras!

Madi Gras


In Italy, Carnevale is marked by parades and parties, and the party goers are dressed in Rococco high fashion gowns and suits. The one unique aspect of Italian Carnevale is masks. The bauta mask is the most traditional mask as it covers the facial features and has a bit of fabric attached to drape the neck, concealing identity and social class. Concealment of identity and social class was important to Italians who wanted to fully immerse themselves in the Bacchus style celebrations the holiday was inspired by. Venetian Canevale masquerade balls date all the way back to 1296. Masks were the social equalizer in the 16-1700s. Even Plague Dr masks were reborn into Carnivale costume fashion, and served as a reminder to go back to better behavior after the celebrations were over. Napoleon banned Carnevale and masking due to the debauchery they allowed, as well as the security risks they posed. Venice brought back the Carnevale celebrations in the 1970s to reinvigorate the Venetian traditions and culture. 

Madi Gras

In Brazil, Carnavale begins on the Friday before Ash Wednesday. Large parades can be found in each major city in Brazil. Local culture and tradition heavily influence each celebration and creates diversity in celebrating between each town. Parades are led by local Samba schools, with energetic dancers featuring large headdresses and costumes, decorated with feathers, beads and rhinestones. Large Floats, called Trios Electricos, fitted with electricity powering large sound systems and a stage on top for performances or musicians, and beautifully themed displays. Smaller block parties can be found around the major parades for local participation. Similar festivities can be found in the Carribean, Mexico, and other South American countries. 

Madi Gras

How will you celebrate Mardi Gras?

Books you may be interested in:

New Orleans Carnival Krewes: The History, Spirit & Secrets of Mardi Gras

New Orleans Carnival Balls: The Secret Side of Mardi Gras, 1870-1920

Mardi Gras Indians (Louisiana True)

Carnevale Italiano – Italian Carnival: An Introduction to One of Italy’s Most Joyful Celebrations (Italian Edition)

La signification des noms de marque

La création d’une identité de marque forte fait partie intégrante de toute entreprise de biens de consommation et une grande part de l’identité de la marque réside dans son nom. Si de nombreuses marques tirent simplement leur nom de leur fondateurs, d’autres ont des origines plus intéressantes. Certains noms de marque s’inspirent de la mythologie antique, certains sont entièrement fabriqués et d’autres résultent du plus pur hasard. Nous observons certaines des marques les plus connues dans le monde pour découvrir comment et pourquoi elles s’appellent ainsi et sommes persuadés que quelques unes vous surprendront.

Translation of The Meaning of Brand Names into French

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Duolingo: An Easy Way to Learn French


Learning a new language is one of the most productive things you can do in your spare time. It’s perfect for one of those New Year resolutions like: “I’ll spend a couple of hours every day learning a new language and, in a couple of years, I’m going to be a fairly fluent speaker – just in time for that European road trip that I’ve been planning”.  However, it can be difficult to find a good language teacher that is relatively cheap and nearby, and this is enough to kill most people’s motivation.

For example, French is a very charming language that just rolls off the tongue, very musical and even romantic-sounding, but there’s simply not enough time. Well, there’s virtually nothing you can’t achieve with a well-designed app, and Duolingo has gotten a lot of praise recently, so it seems like the most efficient option. You have the app on your phone so you can learn on the go, devoting little chunks of time here and there to mastering the language, and it won’t cost you anything.

What is Dualingo and how come it’s free?

Duolingo is a language-learning tool that takes a creative and fun approach to learning new languages, including French, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and Dutch or English for native speakers of any of the listed languages. They have a website you can sign up to for free, as well as a smartphone app available for both Android and iOS. The reason it is free is that some of the texts users are tasked with translating as part of their learning program are actual web content from different websites, and Duolingo actually charges these websites for translating their content.

So, you get to learn a new language and practice on real documents with modern phrases and modern topics, instead of some tired clichés about Mario going to the library, and the company gets to make money off big clients using user-generated translations – it’s a win-win scenario. Of course, the material is checked and marked if it is any good.

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So, how does Dualingo work?

It is a fairly straightforward affair – you create a profile on their website and/or download the app and you can get started. A lot of focus is placed on making learning more enjoyable, which means straying away from boring conventions and poorly designed textbooks, and making the whole experience more interactive. Learning French with Duolingo is more of a fun game and a challenge than an online course. Making learning fun is a slippery slope, and many times it can sabotage your learning, but here, they have managed to create a balanced experience that enables you to pick things up very quickly.

Right off the bat, you are thrown into a conversational mode and you get to learn some of the most common words and useful phrases. The visual side of things is very well-executed, with plenty of cool icons and a user-friendly design. The lessons are structured in a way that ensures that you don’t bite off more than you can chew, but they do teach you several things at once as you go along in a very intuitive manner. When you complete lessons, you get experience points, and there is a handy little chart showing your progress. You get to quickly pick up new words and learn from your mistakes.

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The intuitive learning method and steady progression

At the beginning, you have words associated with pictures, e.g. “la femme” with a picture of a woman, and you identify an English word you are given with the corresponding French word and picture combination. You get to see “la”, “le” and “un” being used with the different words in short sentences and are then asked to translate from French to English and vice-versa. Sometimes, you’ll have it written down and sometimes you’ll hear it spoken and have to transcribe it.

You have a limited number of “lives”, i.e. you can only make several mistakes, before you’ll have to start over. To pass a “level” and move on to more advanced things, you have to go through a series of these small challenges. The format is switched up quite a bit – you write, you check boxes, you read and listen – so it never gets boring.

If you can complete a level without losing a single life – you can repeat it until you get the perfect score – you get rewarded with a small gem or lingot. Collect enough of these and you can buy an item at the store. The items are related to the game and help you to improve by refilling your lives, allowing you to practice against the clock, etc.

There is a certain amount of lessons in each skill block and after completing the whole block, you get to take a test. After completing several skills – like basics, phrases, food, adjectives – you can test them out. You test 8 simple skills you learn at first, then have a next big test at 18, then at 37 and so on.

By then, you’ve mastered things like questions, pronouns, family, time, adverbs, feelings and so on. Everything is broken down into simple chunks and paced just right, so you get to steadily progress and have fun while doing it.

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A good way to get started with a new language quickly

While focusing on a conversational tone and trying to keep things fun is good for motivation and will definitely keep people coming back, it does have some drawbacks. Straying away from boring textbook learning methods means that you lose some of the important and useful features of those textbook – namely, a very detailed explanation of all the different grammar rules. However, Duolingo still has plenty of good information and is definitely a big step forward in terms of free education and enhancing multi-cultural communication.

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