Mardi Gras literary means ‘Fat Tuesday’ that comes just before the ‘Ash Wednesday’ that marks the start of the Catholic fasting season known as Lent. Since this is the last day before the fasting season, people indulge in various fun-filled activities, apart from eating fattening food. Contrary to the popular belief, Mardi Gras does not have any sources in the wild orgies that many Romans indulged in during the springtime.
Ever since French settlers came to the US in early 1700s, the annual celebration of Mardi Gras is celebrated with great enthusiasm and fervor. It gets bigger and better every year. Millions flock to New Orleans in colorful outfits that embellish the event.
Although this is a one, whole event, there are several events and practices within that define Mardi Gras. These practices include wearing different masks, organizing sports competition, dancing, playing music, holding parades, etc.
A host of other countries take part in this annual event, known by a different name in some places. In the UK, it is known as Shrove Tuesday, when people confess before the beginning of the Lent period. In Germany, this event is known as Fastnacht, Karneval, and Fashing, which can be translated as the evening before the fasting season. These parades can be seen in Mainz and Cologne in Germany.
In Italy, the day before the beginning of the Lend period is celebrated with much fervor. In fact, the Italians conceptualized the idea of this celebration by celebrating Carnevale. The idea was then borrowed by the French, who made it popular in the US and then, around the world. The participation is huge, and the variety is wide. Apart from usual masked musicians and dancers, the event witnesses participation of magicians, jugglers, performers, stilt walkers, pageants, etc. In Milan in Italy, the event lasts for four more days ending on the Saturday that comes after Ash Wednesday. A few other countries where Mardi Gras is celebrated are Netherlands and Sweden, where it is known as Carnival and Fettisdagen respectively. Mardi Gras 2012 and Mardi Gras 2013 is estimated to have maximum participation.