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Mardi Gras

Laissez les bon temps rouler! Let the good times roll! Mardi Gras came to America in 1699 with the French explorer Sieur d'Iberville. Celebrated as a major holiday in Paris since the Middle Ages, the French "Mardi Gras" literally means "Fat Tuesday," so named because it falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, the last day prior to Lent, a 40-day season of prayer and fasting observed by the Roman Catholic Church which ends on Easter Sunday. The origin of Fat Tuesday is believed to have come from the ancient Pagan custom of parading a fat ox through the town streets. Such Pagan holidays were filled with excessive eating, drinking and general bawdiness prior to a period of fasting.

The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple (symbolic of justice), green (symbolic of faith) and gold (symbolic of power). The 1892 Rex Parade theme in New Orleans first gave meaning to the representation of the official Mardi Gras colors. While there is no official Mardi Gras costume, purple, green and gold are often featured in any attire for the occasion. Costumes can range from formal wear with masks to grand costumes with trains, feathered headpieces, and feathered backpacks.

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