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Fat Tuesday History

February 21, 2012 by staff 

Fat Tuesday History, In recent years, Mardi Gras, literally “fat Tuesday,” has gained a reputation as wild celebration held each year in boisterous places like Brazil’s Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans’ French Quarter. Believe it or not, the Carnival celebrations often associated with beads, parades, costumes and partying actually stem from the Christian calendar.

According to AmericanCatholic.org , Mardi Gras originated as the “last hurrah” of gluttony before Lent and fasting began on Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is also the final culmination of the entire Carnival season, serving as a grand finale to six weeks of celebration.

The Carnival season kicks off with Epiphany – which falls on January 6, 12 days after Christmas – to celebrate the Wise Men who brought gifts to infant Jesus. Epiphany is traditionally celebrated with a wreath-shaped “king cake,” often decorated the Mardi Gras colors of purple (justice), green (faith) and gold (power). New Orleans Online asserts that traditional king cake is one of the most popular Carnival institutions.

Mardi Gras as we know it today was first celebrated in the late 1700s, according to a report from the Orange County Register , when French settlers in what is now Louisiana held masked pre-Lenten balls. Though the Spanish prohibited the celebrations when they controlled the land, the revelry returned in the mid-1800s and has been celebrated in New Orleans every year since.

Today cities including Mobile, Ala.; St. Louis, Mo.; Sydney, Australia; and Quebec City, Canada hold massive Mardi Gras celebrations often including parades, parties and more.

Want to check out Mardi Gras festivities for yourself? Click over to NOLA.com’s Parade Cam to join the party.

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