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Mardi Gras 101: everything you need to know

By CNN staff

Published February 28, 2019

SEAN GARDNER/reuters/LANDOV

If you've never been to Mardi Gras, you may think it's all about beads for b…well, you know. However, there is a rich history behind the celebration.

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'Mardi Gras' is French for Fat Tuesday (also known as Shrove Tuesday). It was first celebrated in the US in Mobile, Alabama.

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Mardi Gras includes parades, parties and gastronomic indulgence in food and entertainment.

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  • Mardi Gras precedes Ash Wednesday (40 days of penance to Easter Sunday)

  • It marks the last day of Carnival season

  • The celebration is often associated with New Orleans

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Important Dates:

January 6th (annually)

Carnival celebrations begin, continuing through midnight on Fat Tuesday. Carnival is most associated with places that have large Roman Catholic populations

March 5th, 2019

Mardi Gras aka Fat Tuesday

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1837

New Orleans' first Mardi Gras parade

Over time parties and parades started to take place throughout Carnival season, organized by social clubs called "Krewes."

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1857

1st time floats appear in parades

The tradition of "parade throws" is thought to have originated in the 1920s

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Beads and coins called doubloons are thrown from the floats to the spectators. Contrary to popular belief, there is no need for nudity to attract throws.

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Cake fit for a king

King cake has a brioche dough and an array of fillings. The plastic baby inside the cake is said to bring prosperity to whomever finds it.

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No matter how you celebrate Mardi Gras, the event can be enjoyed by all ages.

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