Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, is also known as Shrove Tuesday.
Carnival is celebrated in countries with large Roman Catholic populations. It begins on January 6th, the twelfth day after Christmas.
Carnivals include balls, parties and parades with floats and costumed dancers.
The colors of Mardi Gras are purple (justice), gold (power) and green (faith).
Social clubs called "Krewes" organize the parades, and give balls and parties.
Parades feature floats, marching bands, and a king and queen who lead the parade.
Beads and coins called doubloons are thrown from the floats to the spectators.
The History of Mardi Gras:
Mardi Gras is a state holiday in Alabama, Florida and eight parishes in Louisiana.
Typical attendance for Mardi Gras in New Orleans
is about 1.4 million. After Hurricane Katrina,
the first Mardi Gras saw 700,000.
1857 - First time floats appear in the parades.
Festivities have been canceled 13 times before, most often during war-time.
Mobile, Alabama, was the first place in the United States to celebrate Mardi Gras, and now holds the second largest celebration after New Orleans.