Mardi Bras (and Boxers)

Today is Lunar New Year — and tomorrow is the religious holiday Shrove Tuesday, widely known in the U.S. (not just in New Orleans) as Mardi Gras ‘fat Tuesday’ (for the consumption of rich and fatty foods, before Ash Wednesday inaugurates Lent, a period of fasting and prayer) and a number of other names (more below). The name Mardi Gras has now been fixed on by a number of charitable organzations as the basis for the punning name Mardi Bras or Mardi Bras and Boxers (using the name of the women’s undergarment, the bra), money-raising events of many kinds held on Mardi Gras. Here’s an announcement for one in McKinney TX:


Some other names for Shrove Tuesday: Pancake Day / Tuesday, Fastnacht Day (in Pennsylvania Dutch Country, where there are several alternative spellings), Fasching, and Carnival.

Though Shrove Tuesday is originally a Roman Catholic occasion, it also figures in the calendars of other Christian churches, notably the Lutheran and the Anglican churches. But you don’t have to be religiously observant, or even a Christian, to participate in and enjoy the food customs and the carnivals (lower-case C) of the day.

Mardi Gras beads seem to feature generally in Mardi Bras (and Boxers) events, some of which are charity balls framed as Mardi Gras celebrations. All have some connection to bras, often by way of fanciful bras fashioned for display, taking advantage of the fact that bras (and men’s boxer shorts, especially if they have briefs on underneath) are acceptable as indoor, if racy, wear in some contexts (and women can wear boxer shorts too). Like this rainbow number:


And for men, here are boxers with Mardi Gras masks and beads on them:


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