The term “Mardi Gras” means “Fat Tuesday” in French. The celebration is called this because it takes place on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the Christian season of Lent. Lent is traditionally a time of fasting and sacrifice, so Mardi Gras is seen as a final day of indulgence and revelry before the more somber period that follows.
The name “Fat Tuesday” is also a reference to the rich foods that are traditionally eaten during the celebration. In the past, people would use up all of the rich, fatty foods in their homes before the start of Lent, so they wouldn’t be tempted to break their fast during the 40-day period.
The French settlers who brought the tradition to Louisiana in the 18th century continued to celebrate Mardi Gras with parades, parties, and other festivities. Over time, the celebration evolved to become the colorful and vibrant festival that it is today, with elaborate costumes, floats, and music that reflect the unique culture of New Orleans and the surrounding areas.