In French “Mardi Gras” literally means “Fat Tuesday” so named because it falls on the day before Ash Wednesday
Mardi Gras has roots dating back to the 2nd century when ancient Romans observed Lupercalia, a circus-type festival. Later, Christian interpretation became a festival of feasting and merriment preceding Lent whereby participants celebrated by indulging in voluntary madness donning masks and costumes.
Mardi Gras was brought to American in 1699 by the French explorer, Sieur d’Iberville. The festival had been celebrated in Paris since the Middle Ages. Iberville named a site near New Orleans Point du Dardi Gras in honor of the festival.
New Orleans really didn’t begin celebrating until 1827 when students revived the tradition of dancing through the streets in strange costumes after returning from school in Paris.
The traditional colors are purple, symbolic of justice, green, of faith and gold, of power and are displayed in costumes and beads.
Best wishes for a festive Mardi Gras that will be celebrated locally this week.