Today is Mardi Gras--or, as some people call it, Fat Tuesday. Here are 15 things to know about the tradition, courtesy of NewOrleans.com and MardiGrasNewOrleans.com:
- The first Mardi Gras ever took place in 1703 after explorer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville discovered and named an area of land Pointe du Mardi Gras.
- Today, that area is Mobile, Alabama.
- Bienville would later found New Orleans. Mardi Gras was observed there with balls and parades.
- It wasn't until 1870 that partiers would start throwing beads and other treats off their floats to spectators.
- Mardi Gras has been canceled 13 times, including during the Civil War, World War I, World War II, and Korean War.
- No parades take place in the French Quarter because of fire concerns.
- The organizations that host balls and create parade floats are called krewes.
- Many krewes are named after mythological figures like Bacchus and Orpheus.
- Recently a group of people founded ‘tit Rəx, which makes miniature parade floats contained in shoeboxes.
- Mardi Gras typically draws more than 1 million people to New Orleans.
- The official Mardi Gras colors include purple (for justice), gold (for power) and green (for faith).
- For Mardi Gras, people eat king cakes, which are ring-shaped desserts with a small baby figure inside. If you find the baby, you have to buy--or make--the next king cake for your friends.
- Next year's Mardi Gras is February 13, but the year after that it's March 5.
- Mardi Gras takes place on Fat Tuesday, so named because people eat a lot of food before fasting for Lent.
- It's also called Shrove Tuesday. Mardi Gras isn't just an American tradition--people everywhere from the Czech Republic to Brazil hold festivities every spring.
Source: Mardi Gras History.com