Are Mardi Gras and Carnival the Same Celebration?

mardi-gras-carnival-same-celebration Credit: Brian I'Anson/Lonely Planet Images/Getty Images

In the same way that Christmas Eve is a part of the entire Christmas holiday, Mardi Gras is a part of the Carnival celebration. Carnival refers to a multi-day season that commemorates the period before Lent, while Mardi Gras is a single Tuesday within that period.The two terms are typically used interchangeably, though they technically are separate entities.

Because they are two parts of the same whole, Mardi Gras celebrations tend to be very similar in nature to Carnival celebrations, featuring public gatherings with colorful costumes and the consumption of rich food and drink. The Carnival season, and Mardi Gras as part of it, is intended as a celebration to precede a period of self denial and fasting during Lent.