It literally means 'Fat Tuesday' in French. It refers specifically to the last day of the carnival season which precedes the start of Lent in the Roman Catholic religion. Mardi Gras is always the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday (the official start of Lent), and is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. By tradition, Catholics must give up something of material worth to themselves for Lent. Lent is also considered a time for self-reflection. Therefore, Mardi Gras represents the last opportunity for reverie before Easter.