Carnival, Fat Thursday, Pancake Day… Holidays Related to Food and Indulgence

When is Fat Thursday, Pancake Day

Carnival, Fat Thursday, Pancake Day… Holidays Related to Food and Indulgence

The Christian season of Carnival (or Shrovetide) is a period that immediately precedes Lent. As Lent is associated with fasting and mortification, Carnival, on the other hand, is all about trying delicious foods and drinks (often in abundance) and joyful celebration.

While exact dates that would mark Carnival’s beginning and end differ, it can be roughly said to fall somewhere between early January and early March (depending on the date of Easter).

Historically, Carnival was observed by Christians – and even though it is now a secular celebration, it’s still deeply rooted in traditional customs, which we will describe below. Among the most iconic ones – and so deserving a day of their own – are Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday (also known as Pancake Day). True to their names, they involve plenty of eating. Read on to learn about all the tasty treats prepared during that time!

From this blog post, you’ll learn about the following holidays from around the world:

  • Pancake Day in the United Kingdom;
  • Fat Tuesday in the United States;
  • Carnival of Venice, Italy;
  • Carnival of Cologne, Germany;
  • Carnival of Nice, France;
  • Kurentovanje in Slovenia;
  • Masopust in Prague, Czechia;
  • Tłusty Czwartek in Poland.

Pancake Day in the United Kingdom

When is Pancake Day in 2025?

In 2025, Pancake Day falls on 4 March – as always, the day before Ash Wednesday.

How is Pancake Day celebrated?

Pancake Day is celebrated in the UK with various activities, including pancake races, where participants run while flipping pancakes in a frying pan. These races often take place in towns and villages across the country, and participants, not infrequently in costumes, compete in good spirits. They are not only a fun tradition but also a way to engage the community. The tradition has its roots in an Englishwoman being so preoccupied with frying that, on hearing church bells, she rushed out of her house still with the pan in her hand.

What food is eaten on Pancake Day?

You wouldn’t guess it 😊 – pancakes are the central focus of the celebration. These are often thin, crêpe-like pancakes served with a variety of toppings. Traditional toppings include sugar and lemon juice, but people also choose syrup, chocolate spread, fruit, or whipped cream. The pancakes are a symbol of using up luxurious ingredients before the period of Lenten fasting.

Marketing importance

Rather naturally, Pancake Day marketing centres around delicious food, including all pancake ingredients. What’s more, cafés and restaurants eagerly offer special deals for that day (or the period around it). Companies may also hold gatherings for people to socialise in a friendly atmosphere. Or, on the opposite side of the online-offline spectrum – social media posts inviting followers to share their ways of celebration are also very popular.

Fat Tuesday in the United States

When is Fat Tuesday in 2025?

In 2025, Fat Tuesday falls on 4 March – as always, the day before Ash Wednesday.

How is Fat Tuesday celebrated?

Fat Tuesday, also known in French as Mardi Gras, is widely celebrated in the United States. It is particularly popular in regions with a strong cultural connection to the Catholic tradition and the Carnival season. The most famous and elaborate Fat Tuesday celebration takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana. However, other regions with significant Catholic populations also observe the day with parades, parties, and traditional foods, while wearing elaborate costumes. It is a time for communities to come together, enjoy festivities, and embrace the last moments of Carnival before the solemn period of Lent begins.

What food is eaten on Fat Tuesday?

Both sweet and savoury delicacies are widely popular for Mardi Gras. Among them are pastry products – including king cake and a type of doughnuts called beignets – and rice dishes such as jambalaya and crawfish étouffée. Be prepared for some spiciness, quite typical for Cajun (the Louisiana French-speaking community) cuisine.

Marketing importance

Apart from special catering, Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) marketing often involves hotels offering accommodation packages that include tickets to local parades and balls. Meanwhile, retailers may stock masks, beads, and colourful attire, leveraging on Carnival’s atmosphere.

Carnival of Venice, Italy

When is the Carnival of Venice in 2025?

In 2025, the Carnival of Venice takes place between 22 February and 4 March (ending the day before Ash Wednesday).

How is the Carnival of Venice celebrated?

The origins of the Venice Carnival date back to the 12th century, although there were periods when it was forbidden by authorities. The holiday is both cultural and religious, with historical ties to the city’s social traditions and Catholic practices.

The Carnival is celebrated with grandeur and elegance. The city comes alive with elaborate masks, costumes, and festivities. Traditional events include parades, masquerade balls, and various competitions for the most beautiful masks and costumes. St Mark’s Square is a central hub for celebrations, with live music, entertainment, and an enchanting atmosphere. Visitors and locals alike participate in the celebrations by donning elaborate apparel, contributing to the magical ambiance of the event.

Marketing importance

The Venetian carnival poses a huge marketing opportunity for local and international sellers alike. Entrepreneurs both online and offline can leverage the event’s allure to showcase Venice’s craftsmanship, offer themed merchandise, or create immersive experiences that resonate with the influx of tourists. The event’s global appeal also allows for online retailers to expand their reach, selling carnival-inspired goods to an audience captivated by the enchantment of Venice’s timeless tradition.

Carnival of Cologne, Germany

When is the Carnival of Cologne in 2025?

In 2025, the main part of the Carnival of Cologne takes places between 27 February and 5 March (ending on Ash Wednesday). Interestingly, the Carnival is officially declared open much earlier, on 11 November.

How is the Carnival of Cologne celebrated?

The highlight of the Cologne Carnival is the Rose Monday (two days before Ash Wednesday) parade, featuring elaborate floats, marching bands, and costumed participants. The parade attracts thousands of spectators and is known for its festive and lively atmosphere. Similarly to other carnivals, people dress in elaborate costumes and masks, often with political or satirical themes.

Traditional costumes include jesters, clowns, and fantasy characters. The whole city comes alive with street parties, music, and dancing, with the festivities extending to pubs, bars, and public squares to create a vibrant and joyous atmosphere. It’s also worth mentioning that throughout the carnival season, there are various ceremonial events, including the proclamation of the carnival prince, maiden, and peasant, symbolising the temporary overthrow of the existing social order.

Marketing importance

The Cologne Carnival presents an unmissable marketing opportunity for both online and offline businesses. For digital commerce and services, the event’s social media buzz and the surge in online searches provide an opportunity to engage with a wider audience. Leveraging timely and themed content can boost visibility, drive website traffic, and convert curious celebrants into customers.

Brick-and-mortar businesses, on the other hand, can create immersive experiences that tap into the festive spirit, drawing in the crowds. By offering carnival-themed products, organising themed events, or decking out in carnival decor, local businesses can enhance their brand’s community presence. Understanding and embracing the cultural significance of this event can be a considerable boost to brand recognition and customer loyalty, both online and offline.

Carnival of Nice, France

When is the Carnival of Nice in 2025?

In 2025, the Nice Carnival takes place between 15 February and 2 March.

How is the Carnival of Nice celebrated?

With Nice nestled within the French Riviera, the carnival is an annual extravaganza that blankets the city in a riot of colours, music, and laughter. This centuries-old celebration, renowned worldwide for its vibrancy and scale, sees the streets and promenades teeming with people wearing incredible costumes in a dazzling display of creativity and pageantry.

The celebration traditionally kicks off with the elegant Flower Parade, in contrast to the loud festivities that ensue throughout the night. During that event, flower petals are thrown around the streets and at people. At night, fireworks illuminate the sky, accompanying the jubilant crowds.

Marketing importance

The carnival’s impact spans beyond the festivities, drawing a global audience and spotlighting Nice. For entrepreneurs both online and offline, it offers a rare convergence of high-visibility marketing opportunities.

From selling merchandise adorned with the event’s iconic symbols to creating experiential packages for tourists attending the event, the festivities serve as a space for businesses to connect with a highly engaged audience.

Through social media activations, partnerships with local vendors, and real-life or interactive pop-up events, both digital and physical businesses can leverage the carnival’s attention, delivering memorable experiences and building long-lasting customer relationships.

Kurentovanje in Slovenia

When is Kurentovanje in 2025?

In 2025, Kurentovanje takes place between 22 February and 4 March, ending the day before Lent begins.

How is Kurentovanje celebrated?

Kurentovanje, first organised in 1960, is deeply embedded in Slovene folklore and traditions. The holiday is associated with the arrival of spring, fertility rites, and the expulsion of winter. The central figure of the celebration is Kurent, a mythical creature adorned in sheepskin, a mask with a long red tongue, and large bells.

The highlight of the celebration is the colourful and lively Kurenti (Kurents) procession. Participants, dressed as Kurenti, march through the streets, making noise with bells and driving away winter spirits. The procession often includes traditional music, dance, and masks.

As other types of carnival, Kurentovanje features cultural events, exhibitions, and performances showcasing Slovene folklore, traditional crafts, and art. There are also competitions for the best mask.

Marketing importance

Kurentovanje paves the way for enterprises to engage with the community through festive-themed deals, special events, and cultural sponsorships. For entrepreneurs, the carnival is much more than a celebration; it’s a season where creativity in marketing can flourish, attracting both domestic and international tourists.

Online platforms buzz with activity, offering a digital space for businesses to showcase their involvement and cultural appreciation, while on the streets, companies capitalise on the influx of visitors, ensuring that their products and services are part of the event.

Kurentovanje could be particularly interesting for craftspeople and artists representing old Slavic traditions. In Slovenia, but also in other Slavic countries such as Poland, Ukraine, or Serbia, there has been a revival of interest in old craft, music, art, and beliefs. Thus, people who sell decorative hand-made items with Slavic imagery or musicians performing Slavic folk music can easily boost their popularity at events such as Kurentovanje.

Masopust in Prague, Czechia

When is Masopust in 2025?

While the dates of Masopust are movable (as they depend on the date of Easter), in 2025, it takes place between 7 January and 4 March.

How is Masopust celebrated?

The word masopust means “meat fast” and like many other holidays mentioned in this post, it’s connected with Lent. However, the actual celebration is anything but abstinence and moderateness!

Masopust is celebrated with a dazzling display of colourful costumes, lively parades, and traditional music. Both Praguers and tourists immerse themselves in the festivities, where masks representing various creatures add a hint of mystery and delight. Revellers indulge in feasting on hearty Czech cuisine – eating local doughnuts, pork roast, or head cheese – knowing well that this is the last chance for indulgence before the Lent (if they’re practising believers, of course).

Also, traditionally, Masopust has been a time for communities to come together, bid adieu to winter, and prepare for the renewal that spring promises. Masopust is not just a feast for the palate but a testament to the cultural tapestry and enduring spirit of Prague – still a pearl in Europe’s crown.

Marketing importance

Amidst the vivid parades, masks, and feasts, lies the potential to create engaging campaigns that celebrate Czech customs, while promoting local wares on an international stage.

An example of this is leveraging Masopust to market Czech beer, a proud symbol of the nation’s craftsmanship, in other countries. By thematically aligning the beer’s brand with the jovial spirit of Masopust, companies can curate appealing experiences that resonate with consumers globally. Some of them could consider coming to Prague in the future, thus aiding local businesses, too.

Finally, all places offering accommodation in the Czech capital can powerfully capitalise on the importance of Masopust. Whether or not you do business with Czechs, there might be a way to include the Prague carnival in your marketing efforts (even if through a single Instagram post).

Tłusty Czwartek in Poland

When is Tłusty Czwartek in 2025?

In 2025, Tłusty Czwartek (Fat Thursday) in Poland falls on 27 February, the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday.

How is Tłusty Czwartek celebrated?

Historically, apart from confections, Poles would also eat fatty meat such as pork belly. However, in our times, pączki (a type of doughnuts) and faworki (angel wings) are by far the most popular choice. They are delicious pastries, and Tłusty Czwartek is all about eating lots of them.

In fact, many Polish people – and we really mean the majority – keep count of the number of pączki eaten during that day. Widely popular are competitions where friends bet on who can eat more. This tradition is also widespread in workplaces. Companies actively hold similar contests themselves and usually buy whole boxes of pączki for their employees.

On Fat Thursday, people stand in long queues in front of confectioneries, which experience their own Black Friday-style invasion. When local or national election campaigns overlap with Fat Thursday, expect candidates to hand out free pączki to people in the streets!

What food is eaten on Tłusty Czwartek?

As we’ve mentioned, pączki and faworki are the most commonly eaten pastries on Polish Fat Thursday. The former can, without a doubt, be called a symbol of that holiday.

Pączki are deep-fried pieces of dough. The dough is rich and sweet, creating a delectable base for myriad fillings, such as chocolate, rose jam, cream cheese, pudding, etc. Pączki are often coated with powdered sugar or icing and vary in size based on personal and regional preferences.

Meanwhile, faworki – the local variant of angel wings – are known for their lacy, ribbon-like shape and light, airy texture. The sweet, deep-fried ribbons are typically sprinkled with lots of powdered sugar, making them a melt-in-your-mouth, delectable treat.

Marketing importance

Fat Thursday belongs to the more notable days in the Polish calendar, along with holidays such as All Saints’ Day, Valentine’s Day, Women’s Day, or Mother’s Day. If you sell food in any place – be it a convenience store, a supermarket or a café – you simply must include pączki in your assortment.

But not only that – lots and lots of companies publish posts on their social media that relate to Tłusty Czwartek in some way. You may ask your followers how many pączki they have eaten, or encourage them to post pictures of their homemade doughnuts. The choice is yours!

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