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Celebrating Mardi Gras in Canada
Mardi Gras is celebrated all over the world.

Mardi Gras is a time of celebration just before lent.

February 28 is Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, Carnival and/or Mardi Gras, depending on your culture and traditions. Mardi Gras is the last day for parties before the time of Lent. Lent is when many Christians fast before the Easter holiday. You don’t have to celebrate Easter to enjoy Mardi Gras, but knowing why it’s celebrated can help you understand the traditions.

What Is Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which is based on the date of Easter. This means that the date generally changes from year to year. In 2017, it’s February 28. Next year, the date is February 13. In Canada, it’s not a statutory holiday, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t find celebrations here in the country.

During Lent, Christians give up many indulgences, such as meat, alcohol and rich foods. Shrove Tuesday began as a way of using up the food in the household that might be forbidden during Lent. Some believe that Pancake Tuesday was a pagan holiday. Christians are reported to have made pancakes because the recipe would use up eggs, lard or butter, sugar and milk, foods that might be limited through Lent.

Although Lent probably originated in Europe, people around the world now celebrate Mardi Gras, Carnival or Shrove Tuesday with huge festivals. Masquerades and costumes are popular, but so are large amounts of alcohol, many rich foods, not only pancakes and pastries.

At one time, Mardi Gras was a more sedate celebration. Today, it is often considered the single person’s holiday in late Winter, as opposed to Valentine’s Day, which is more couple-centric. 

Where to Celebrate Mardi Gras

Since 1445, Olney in Buckinghamshire has held a pancake race in which women (although men can participate) carry a frypan and toss a pancake in it while racing 415 yards (one-quarter of a kilometer). The pancake must be in the pan when crossing the finish line, and the contestants must be tossing it as they cross the finish. Typically, these women also dress as housewives, wearing an apron and a scarf. Following the race, everyone goes to the church for a service.

Rio, New Orleans, Trinidad and Tobago and Sydney, Australia are great places to go to enjoy huge parties and crowds for Mardi Gras. Not only is this a time to eat indulgently, it’s also a time to be free of inhibitions. It’s an “eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die” attitude. In New Orleans, it’s traditional to accumulate beads. Tourists think the best way to get beads is to flash someone, but really, locals prefer you just shout, “throw me something, mister!“ at the people on the floats. Parents of children who come out for the parade will thank you for not flashing yourself for their kids to see.

Places in Canada to Celebrate Mardi Gras

Locally, the most popular place for Mardi Gras celebrations is in Quebec City, but this year’s Carnaval de Quebec was from January 27 through February 12, making it much earlier than Mardi Gras. Ottawa’s Winterlude also misses it this year, as it is from February 3 through 20. You may just have to look for ones in your neighborhood or create your own traditions.

Wedding Engagement Announcement Etiquette
Taking the first steps towards an engagement.

Every engagement started somewhere. For some, it was dating a friend; for others, dating websites played a crucial role.

According to some experts, about 40 percent of wedding engagements occur between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. It doesn’t matter when you get engaged, you’ll want to spread the news far and wide. It might sound like a childish notion to have a plan for sharing your engagement news, but you’ll want to make sure that your mom hears your announcement from you, not Aunt Sally. Here are some etiquette tips you might want to consider.

Who Do I Tell First?

Before posting on social media, you want to make sure your family and close friends know. If you have kids, you should talk to them first and give them some time to process their emotions before making the big announcement. Social media and/or newspaper announcements should follow your own verbal notices.

Can I Post Pictures of the Ring on Social Media?

Modern etiquette experts all recommend not sharing a picture of just your ring on social media, although it is very common to see close-up pictures of rings on Instagram or Facebook. The best way is to take a picture of your left hand that includes you and your fiancé. It’s more gracious and focuses on your announcement instead of focusing on the consumerism of how big the ring is.

Dealing With Uncomfortable Questions About the Ring

If you get asked about the price or size of your ring, you may be uncomfortable discussing that particular information. You don’t have to tell someone how much the ring cost or how many carats the diamond is. It is good to have a general response to any questions to be able to deflect the discomfort you feel. “Brad spent more than he should have, but we’ll have this treasure forever.” “It’s not the size that matters to me.” Humor is a good tool to have in your arsenal. Quickly change the subject to some other aspect of the wedding.

Who Should Be Invited to the Engagement Party?

You might want to invite all your friends and family to your engagement party, but wedding etiquette dictates that everyone who is invited to pre-wedding events should be invited to the actual wedding. This is one reason to keep the engagement party small. Although anyone can throw the celebration, traditionally the parents of the bride host the party. The best man and maid of honor should not be the ones hosting this party, because they are responsible for other parties closer to the wedding.

Do Brides Have to Wear White to the Engagement Party?

It is traditional for brides to wear white to the party, but that shouldn’t limit your wardrobe. The most important thing is that you feel comfortable and enjoy the party and your friends. White puts you in the spotlight, and it will be a nice reminder that those pictures are from the engagement party.

Etiquette for Those Who Have Been Informed About the Engagement

If you’ve been chosen to get the information before it’s been posted on social media, hold off on posting anything on social media about the wedding until after the couple makes an announcement. It’s tempting to want to break the news, but it’s just good etiquette to wait. Don’t ask about the size or cost of the ring. If the bride and groom want to tell you, they will.

You also shouldn’t approach the couple to ask whether you’ll be in the bridal party. It puts the bride and groom in the awkward position of having to say no if they’re planning a small wedding and not including you. Just wait to let the bride ask you. You aren’t obligated to get engagement gifts for the couple, but gifts are customary. Choose affordable gifts that fit within your budget and communicate your happiness.

Wedding Traditions From Around The World
Certain wedding traditions have been practiced for hundreds of years.

There are all kinds of traditions that continue through the world. Many have similarities while others can be vastly different.

If you’re trying to plan a unique ceremony for your special day, check out some of these special wedding traditions from around the world.

 

 

 

Wedding Traditions from other Cultures

  • Congo – Brides and grooms aren’t allowed to smile on their wedding day. When they do, it shows that they aren’t serious about the marriage.
  • China – The bride travels to the groom’s home in a decorated sedan chair. Attendants take care of the bride on the journey by holding parasols to shield her from the elements. They throw rice at the chair as a sign of prosperity and health. Female bridesmaids put the groom through a series of tests for him to prove his worthiness of the bride. He must give them envelopes of money before they’ll allow him to have their friend.
  • Fiji – The potential bridegroom must present his father with a whale’s tooth when he asks for her hand in marriage.
  • Jamaica – The bride is paraded through the streets. If the villagers go home, it means she didn’t look her best. She must go home and spruce herself up for another go.

Some Other Cultures Practices

  • Guatemala – The groom’s parents host the reception party. The groom’s mother breaks a ceramic bell filled with grains to give the couple prosperity.
  • Germany – The guests break porcelain dishes in front of the new home. The bride and groom are to clean these dishes up together as a demonstration of working together to overcome anything.
  • Scotland – Gretna Green is the place to elope. In medieval times, Gretna Green would marry young couples who did not always have parental permission.
  • Kenya – The bride’s father spits on her as she leaves the reception. It’s thought to preempt fate by not seeming too supportive of the couple.
  • Greece – The best man (or groom’s best friend) shaves the groom before the wedding. The new mother-in-law feeds him honey and almonds.
  • Japan – A Shinto bride wears white from head to toe. The head covering is thought to hide the horns of jealousy toward her new mother-in-law. The white symbolizes her maidenhood.
  • Norway – The traditional cake is called kransekake. It’s a tower of almond cake rings stacked on top of each other. The center is often filled with a wine bottle. The bride may wear a gold and silver crown with small trinkets as part of her wedding finery. As she moves, the trinkets jingle, which scares off the evil spirits.
  • Russia – Couples partake of a sweetbread called karavaya which is decorated with grains of wheat for fertility. Whoever takes the largest bite without using their hands is thought to be the head of the family.

As you go through this list, you might notice that many of the wedding traditions are similar to customs we have here. It just shows that we’re more alike than we think.