Mardi Gras 2018: What Is It And When Is It?

Tens of thousands of revelers descended on New Orleans streets for parades and rowdy fun as Mardi Gras got underway. (Feb. 13) AP

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A participant in the Red Beans and Rice Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans.(Photo: Dan Anderson, European Pressphoto Agency)

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What does ‘Mardi Gras’ mean?

Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday," also called Shrove Tuesday. It is the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Christian Lent season leading up to Easter. During Lent, many Christians fast, and the name Fat Tuesday refers to the last day of eating richer foods before the leaner days of Lent begin. This year it is celebrated on Feb. 13.

Where is it celebrated?

In America, celebrations for Mardi Gras are most famous in New Orleans, where it is the conclusion of weeks of parades that begin in January. Other Southern cities, especially with French heritage, such as Mobile, Ala., also mark Mardi Gras. The day is the culmination of the Carnival season, which begins on or after the Christian Feast of the Epiphany in January. Carnival season also is celebrated in many Catholic-majority countries, most well-known in Brazil, where elaborate parades fill the streets.

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A member of the New Orleans Baby Doll Ladies walks
A member of the New Orleans Baby Doll Ladies walks down St. Charles Avenue ahead of the Zulu Parade during Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  Gerald Herbert, APFullscreenYoung revelers wearing sheep fur costumes take part
Young revelers wearing sheep fur costumes take part in the traditional carnival parade on the last day of Carnival, Fat Tuesday, in Mohacs, Hungary.   Sandor Ujvari, European Pressphoto AgencyFullscreenA reveler joins the crowd in the traditional carnival
A reveler joins the crowd in the traditional carnival parade on the last day of Carnival, Fat Tuesday, in Mohacs, Hungary.   Sandor Ujvari, European Pressphoto AgencyFullscreenThis is the Coso's parade during the Mardi Gras of
This is the Coso's parade during the Mardi Gras of the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival Fest in the Canary Islands, Spain.   Ramon De La Rocha, European Pressphoto AgencyFullscreenParticipants in the Coso's parade during the Mardi
Participants in the Coso's parade during the Mardi Gras of the Santa Cruz de Tenerife Carnival Fest in Canary Islands, Spain.   Ramon De La Rocha, European Pressphoto AgencyFullscreenThe crowd yells for a coconut as the Krewe of Zulu
The crowd yells for a coconut as the Krewe of Zulu walk through New Orleans.   Dan Anderson, European Pressphoto AgencyFullscreenA marcher with the Krewe of Zulu dances  through New
A marcher with the Krewe of Zulu dances through New Orleans.   Dan Anderson, European Pressphoto AgencyFullscreenThe crowd yells for a coconut as the Krewe of Zulu
The crowd yells for a coconut as the Krewe of Zulu walk through New Orleans.   Dan Anderson, European Pressphoto AgencyFullscreen A member of the Krewe of Zulu in New Orleans.
A member of the Krewe of Zulu in New Orleans.   Dan Anderson, European Pressphoto AgencyFullscreenA participant in the Red Beans and Rice Mardi Gras
A participant in the Red Beans and Rice Mardi Gras Parade walks through New Orleans, Feb. 27 2017 in preparation for fat Tuesday.   Dan Anderson, European Pressphoto AgencyFullscreenLana Corll and Dan Leary in the French Quarter In New
Lana Corll and Dan Leary in the French Quarter In New Orleans during Mardi Gras celebrations.   Dan Anderson, European Pressphoto AgencyFullscreen

Like this topic? You may also like these photo galleries:

    Replay
    • div">>A member of the New Orleans Baby Doll Ladies walks1 of 11
    • div">>Young revelers wearing sheep fur costumes take part2 of 11
    • div">>A reveler joins the crowd in the traditional carnival3 of 11
    • div">>This is the Coso's parade during the Mardi Gras of4 of 11
    • div">>Participants in the Coso's parade during the Mardi5 of 11
    • div">>The crowd yells for a coconut as the Krewe of Zulu6 of 11
    • div">>A marcher with the Krewe of Zulu dances  through New7 of 11
    • div">>The crowd yells for a coconut as the Krewe of Zulu8 of 11
    • div">> A member of the Krewe of Zulu in New Orleans. 9 of 11
    • div">>A participant in the Red Beans and Rice Mardi Gras10 of 11
    • div">>Lana Corll and Dan Leary in the French Quarter In New11 of 11
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    What is its history in the United States?

    According to the official Mardi Gras New Orleans website, the first U.S. Mardi Gras occurred in Mobile in 1703 with a secret society, the Masque de Mobile, formed to organize the celebrations. This society is similar to the “krewes” in New Orleans who sponsor the elaborate floats used in the parades before and during Mardi Gras. The celebration arrived in New Orleans soon after its founding in 1718.

    About a century later, according to Mardi Gras New Orleans, street parades had become established in the city and many krewes had formed, their members remaining anonymous and their faces hidden by masks. In 1872, a “King of Carnival,” Rex, was introduced to preside over the parades. The tradition of float riders throwing trinkets to the crowds also began in the 1870s. Typical “throws” include beads, cups, coins and stuffed animals.

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    Who organizes and pays for Mardi Gras?

    Krewes are private, non-profit organizations whose members get together year-round to plan their parade's theme, costumes and throws, according to Mardi Gras New Orleans. They are individually funded by members through dues, sales of krewe-related merchandise  and fundraising, including corporate sponsorships. The city of New Orleans is not involved in coordinating Mardi Gras parades; its only involvement is to issue parade permits.

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    A foot marcher with the Krewe of Zulu makes his way
    A foot marcher with the Krewe of Zulu makes his way down the street on Fat Tuesday during Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans, La., Feb. 13, 2018.  Dan Anderson, EPA-EFEFullscreenThe Krewe of Zulu marches down a street in New Orleans
    The Krewe of Zulu marches down a street in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday during Mardi Gras celebrations.  Dan Anderson, EPA-EFEFullscreenA member of the Krewe of Zulu marches during their
    A member of the Krewe of Zulu marches during their parade Mardi Gras day.  Gerald Herbert, APFullscreenNew Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, right, and chief
    New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, right, and chief of police Michael Harrison ride on horseback at the start of the Krewe of Zulu parade on Mardi Gras day in New Orleans, Feb. 13, 2018.  Gerald Herbert, APFullscreenSpike Lee rides with the Krewe of Zulu on Fat Tuesday
    Spike Lee rides with the Krewe of Zulu on Fat Tuesday during Mardi Gras celebrations.  Dan Anderson, EPA-EFEFullscreenThe Krewe of Zulu marches as they roll on during Mardi
    The Krewe of Zulu marches as they roll on during Mardi Gras day in New Orleans.  Gerald Herbert, APFullscreenA member of the walking club Mondo Kayo revels as they
    A member of the walking club Mondo Kayo revels as they march and dance down the route of the Krewe of Zulu parade on Mardi Gras day in New Orleans.  Gerald Herbert, APFullscreenThe Krewe of Zulu makes it's way down the street on
    The Krewe of Zulu makes it's way down the street on Fat Tuesday.  Dan Anderson, EPA-EFEFullscreenNew Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan rides
    New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan rides with the Krewe of Zulu on Fat Tuesday.  Dan Anderson, EPA-EFEFullscreenA member of the Krewe of Zulu hands out coconuts to
    A member of the Krewe of Zulu hands out coconuts to the crowd as their parade rolls on Mardi Gras day in New Orleans.  Gerald Herbert, APFullscreenA foot marcher with the Krewe of Zulu makes his way
    A foot marcher with the Krewe of Zulu makes his way down the street on Fat Tuesday.  Dan Anderson, EPA-EFEFullscreenThe crowd reaches out for a coconut from a foot marcher
    The crowd reaches out for a coconut from a foot marcher with the Krewe of Zulu on Fat Tuesday.  Dan Anderson, EPA-EFEFullscreenA marcher makes her way down the street on Fat Tuesday
    A marcher makes her way down the street on Fat Tuesday in New Orleans.  Dan Anderson, EPA-EFEFullscreenA member of the Krewe of Zulu leads the way as their
    A member of the Krewe of Zulu leads the way as their parade rolls on Mardi Gras day in New Orleans.  Gerald Herbert, APFullscreenA marcher holds out a fist full of beads on Fat Tuesday
    A marcher holds out a fist full of beads on Fat Tuesday in New Orleans.  Dan Anderson, EPA-EFEFullscreenMembers of the Skeleton Krewe march through the French
    Members of the Skeleton Krewe march through the French Quarter on Fat Tuesday during Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans.  Dan Anderson, EPA-EFEFullscreenJerry Krummal waits for parades on Fat Tuesday during
    Jerry Krummal waits for parades on Fat Tuesday during Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans.  Dan Anderson, EPA-EFEFullscreenA mask from the Skeleton Krewe sits in the French Quarter
    A mask from the Skeleton Krewe sits in the French Quarter on Fat Tuesday during Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans.  Dan Anderson, EPA-EFEFullscreen

    Like this topic? You may also like these photo galleries:

      Replay
      • div">>A foot marcher with the Krewe of Zulu makes his way1 of 18
      • div">>The Krewe of Zulu marches down a street in New Orleans2 of 18
      • div">>A member of the Krewe of Zulu marches during their3 of 18
      • div">>New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, right, and chief4 of 18
      • div">>Spike Lee rides with the Krewe of Zulu on Fat Tuesday5 of 18
      • div">>The Krewe of Zulu marches as they roll on during Mardi6 of 18
      • div">>A member of the walking club Mondo Kayo revels as they7 of 18
      • div">>The Krewe of Zulu makes it's way down the street on8 of 18
      • div">>New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan rides9 of 18
      • div">>A member of the Krewe of Zulu hands out coconuts to10 of 18
      • div">>A foot marcher with the Krewe of Zulu makes his way11 of 18
      • div">>The crowd reaches out for a coconut from a foot marcher12 of 18
      • div">>A marcher makes her way down the street on Fat Tuesday13 of 18
      • div">>A member of the Krewe of Zulu leads the way as their14 of 18
      • div">>A marcher holds out a fist full of beads on Fat Tuesday15 of 18
      • div">>Members of the Skeleton Krewe march through the French16 of 18
      • div">>Jerry Krummal waits for parades on Fat Tuesday during17 of 18
      • div">>A mask from the Skeleton Krewe sits in the French Quarter18 of 18
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      Source : https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2018/02/13/what-mardi-gras-most-famous-new-orleans-and-how-celebrated/332796002/

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