Carnaval Tuesday
Upcoming Dates:

2006: February 28 
2007: February 20
2008: February 5
2009: February 24
2010: February 16
2011: March 8

2012 :February 21  
2013: February 12

2014: March 4

2015: February 17
2016: February 9

2017: February 26

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Why is there so much variation in the dates of Carnival or Mardi Gras? This great celebration of life can occur between between February 3 and March 9; a span of nearly five weeks.

Mardi Gras Day is also know as Fat or Shrove Tuesday. In the not so distant past, this day was something of a "last call" before the expected reflection and abstinence of the Christian Lenten season. Lent is the seven week period prior to the great Christian spring holiday of rebirth we all know as Easter.
The reasons for the great variation in Mardi Gras day can be explained by the custom of aligning the occurrence Easter Sunday and then Mardi Gras annually with the Sun, spring full moon and the rhythms of the magic number seven.
The first day of spring for those us us who live above the Equator is usually March 21. This Spring or Vernal Equinox is the first day of the year when night is not longer than day. From this point forward in our calendar the sun will shine longer tomorrow than today.
Three months later the the longest day of the year will arrive and be observed in many pagan celebrations. Summer Solstice almost always occurs on June 21. The annual 365.25 day orbit of the earth around the sun varies very little from year to year, however the thirteen cycles of the moon waxing and waning are not so easy to predict.
Easter can fall on any Sunday from March 23 to April 25 because it set to fall on the first Sunday succeeding the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. Sunday as the seventh day of the week is considered a day to pause and rest. This tradition of breaking life into seven day periods is many thousands of years old.
Many are surprised to learn that Easter Sunday is determined by planetary alignment yet many Church holidays were determined by the established sacred traditions predating Christianity. Even more surprising is to learn that this central Christian holiday traces its name to the not so ancient European Spring Goddess Eostre. 
The intersection of one of the thirteen full moons with the calendar's twelve months is the factor which adds the greatest variation to the Carnival season. The cycles of the moon control the tides of the sea. The waning and waxing of these two elements has long considered a powerful source of feminine energy just as the sun is considered masculine.
Finally, the first day of Lent, Ash Wednesday is a function of 40 weekdays plus seven Sundays. The ancient Egyptians were the first recorded culture which celebrated Carnival, setting aside five of the 365 days of the year to restore harmony to their relationship with the gods of the universe. Known as a time outside of time, the Egyptians would sing ribald songs, drink brew, and carry on in torch parades where the women would hold aloft gigantic erect phalluses. The central event would be a reenactment of the passion between Isis and her husband/brother Osirus who was their god of rebirth.
These Egyptians possessed remarkably sophisticated mythology that did not separate science from religion. They believed that all things were cyclical with a central organizing pattern based upon a circle divided into the twelve parts of the Zodiac. According to this system 2,160 year long ages they would have first celebrated their carnival during the age of Taurus the Bull.

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We have now passed through two more ages and are presently on the cusp of the Age of Aquarius. It is interesting to note that neither of the two succeeding symbols of the last two ages the Ram (very popular in the Bible's Old Testament) or the Fish (the symbol of Christianity for the last 2000 years) are particularly popular Carnival symbols. However the BOEUF GRAS - the fatted bull is still alive and well as a potent symbol of Mardi Gras and other Carnivals throughout Europe and the New World.
The Christian Church of Europe was never comfortable with the spring impulse to abandon your repression, express  your creative urges and give body to your unspoken desires.  However the tradition could not be outlawed without great cost and eventually a truce was struck. In return for granting the holiday temporary dispensation from  the laws of the Church, the Carnival would occur in the cold weather month of February well before the Church's mid-Spring Holiday in April. Also Lent would prescribe a diet of no meat for good Christians until Easter Sunday occurred.
There is little written about this transition to Church acceptance other than this was the point where this original celebration of the rebirth of life in the annual cycle got its name from the Church.  Carnival can be traced to its Latin roots meaning Farewell (valle) to the Flesh (Carne).
Many centuries later the various European Carnival traditions would become mixed with those of Africa and the original inhabitants of the American New World giving birth to what many consider the world's greatest celebrations of the people. 

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111300's Easter Page

Septuagesima, third Sunday before Lent.
Sexagesima, second Sunday before Lent.
Shrovetide or Carnval Saturday. The three days before Ash Wednesday, which was once a time for confession and absolution.
Shrove Sunday, Carnaval Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Also Quinquagesima. In Port of Spain Trinidad and New Orleans this day is better known by its French name,  Dimache Gras
Shrove Monday, Monday before Ash Wednesday. Also called Rose Monday and Lundi Gras. In Denmark, today is called Fastelavn. In Germany and Austria today coincides with Fasching (or Feast of Fools).
Shrove Tuesday, day before Ash Wednesday. Today is the last day of Shrovetide, and a time of merrymaking before Lent. Also known as Mardi Gras and Carnaval Tuesday.
Ash Wednesday, 46 days before Easter . The Day of Ashes, is the first day of Lent, occuring forty days before Easter not counting Sundays. The ancient custom on this day is for the faithful to receive on the forehead the sign of a cross marked with blessed ashes. The palms from the previous Palm Sunday are burned and the ashes are blessed for the ceremony before the Mass.

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