Today is Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday!
Fat Tuesday changes every year depending on Easter, and in 2013, we celebrate on February 12! Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, is all about overindulgence and feasting prior to lent, which begins the following day. Today marks the end of the Carnival season and people celebrate with music, parades, and parties.
Mardi Gras celebrations began thousands of years ago in medieval Europe as a pagan ritual to celebrate springtime. Christian leaders decided they would integrate Mardi Gras by recognizing it as a period of excess right before the Christian fasting holiday of Lent.
The first American Mardi Gras was reported to have taken place on March 3, 1699, when two French explorers settled in Louisiana. The Twelfth Night Revelers introduced the throwing of beads and other trinkets to crowds of people in the 1870s. Carnival has grown into wild and hedonistic celebrations, the largest of which occur in Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans, Louisiana.
Laissez les bon temps rouler! (Let the good times roll!)