What is Mardi Gras?

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Mardi Gras is a winter celebration stemming from the carnival, which is a type of street fair or festival found in countries around the world. While local traditions vary, carnivals always have parades, music, dancing, and lots of good food and drink! Some of the most famous Mardi Gras celebrations take place in the United States' southern region, particularly in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Brought to the area by French settlers in the 1699, the New Orleans Mardi Gras period begins on "Twelfth Night" (January 6) and continues until the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. In the past, Mardi Gras was seen as one last time to be silly and have fun until after the Lent and Easter season was over, since these are very serious holidays in the Christian church.

Even though the whole celebration period beginning on Twelfth night is referred to as "Mardi Gras," the name is most commonly associated with the weekend before Ash Wednesday. During these days, the population of New Orleans doubles, and there are parades every night where people throw candy, beads, and toys into the enormous crowds! The traditional Mardi Gras colors of gold, purple, and green are everywhere, and there are also balls, dancing in the streets, and contests to see who can come up with the most elaborate costumes and masks!
 

by   (whyzz writer)
  • Exploration

    In parts of Europe, especially England and Ireland, the day before Ash Wednesday is known as "Pancake Day!" In the past many foods, such as eggs or butter, were forbidden during the Lent period, so people wanted one last chance to indulge before they gave them up until Easter. So while there are still Mardi Gras celebrations, on this particular day it's considered good luck to eat...you guessed it, pancakes! 
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