When: Day before Ash Wednesday, 47 days before Easter (13 February 2018)
Where: New Orleans and many more
About: Mardi Gras, also called Shrove Tuesday,or Fat Tuesday,in English, refers to events of the carnival celebrations, beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season. Mardi Gras is about music, parades, picnics, floats and excitement. It’s one big holiday in New Orleans.
Since Rex, the King of Carnival, selected them in 1872, the official colors of Mardi Gras have been purple, green and gold. While they were probably chosen simply because they looked good together, Rex assigned a meaning to each in his 1892 parade entitled Symbolism of Colors. Purple represents justice, green stands for faith, and gold signifies power. There is no general theme for Mardi Gras, but each individual parade depicts a specific subject. Among the more popular subjects have been history, children’s stories, legends, geography, famous people, entertainment, mythology and literature. The colorful worlds of Greek, Roman and Egyptian mythology are the sources of nearly half of the area’s krewe names.
For a few weeks in the early part of each year, dozens of brightly festooned, themed Mardi Gras floats carrying krewe royalty, celebrities, and masked members lead marching bands and riders on horseback, flambeaux carriers and others through the streets of New Orleans. They bestow beads, doubloons, and other prized trinkets to millions of revelers witnessing “the greatest show on Earth.” Carnival season officially begins January 6 every year and continues through Fat Tuesday, which falls on the day before Ash Wednesday.
History: The origins of Mardi Gras can be traced to medieval Europe, passing through Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries to the French House of the Bourbons. The festival season varies from city to city, as some traditions, such as the one in New Orleans, Louisiana, consider Mardi Gras to stretch the entire period from Twelfth Night (the last night of Christmas which begins Epiphany) to Ash Wednesday, Others treat the final three-day period before Ash Wednesday as the Mardi Gras. In Mobile, Alabama, Mardi Gras-associated social events begin in November, followed by mystic society balls on Thanksgiving, then New Year’s Eve, followed by parades and balls in January and February, celebrating up to midnight before Ash Wednesday. In earlier times, parades were held on New Year’s Day. Other cities famous for Mardi Gras celebrations include Rio de Janeiro; Barranquilla, Colombia; George Town, Cayman Islands; Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago; Quebec City, Quebec, Canada; and Mazatlán, Sinaloa, Mexico.