Mardi Gras has its roots in pagan celebrations of spring that date back 5,000 years. In the United States, Mardi Gras is officially held in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Mardi Gras marks the end of Carnival. Carnival begins on the Feast of the Epiphany in January and ends on Ash Wednesday. While Mardi Gras officially lasts one day, the celebrating in New Orleans starts weeks prior to the actual day.
In 1582, Pope Gregory XII declared Mardi Gras a Christian holiday. Mardi Gras is celebrated on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, which is a time of fasting and prayer. Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is the last day for Christians to over indulge before Lent begins
The first American Mardi Gras was in 1699. French explorers Iberville and Bienville Lemoyne brought the celebration with them when they were sent by King Louis XIV to defend France's claim to the territory of Louisiana.
New Orleans was founded by Bienville Lemoyne decades after he arrived in Louisiana. He is credited with bringing the celebration to New Orleans.
Mardi Gras celebrations typically consist of costumes, masks and parade floats in gold, green and purple. Also popular is the act of throwing beads to on lookers from parade floats and balconies.
Mardi Gras, Origins, History
About this Author
Mary Anne Ott is a cancer patient navigator in Ohio. Ott has a Bachelor's of Arts in communications from Wright State University. Ott worked in the banking industry for six years as a personal banker and assistant branch manager before pursuing a career in healthcare.