Q: A reader asks, What’s the deal with Mardi Gras?
A: Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday” is the day before Ash Wednesday. It is the final day of Carnival, but incorrectly Mardi Gras has come to include the weeks proceeding Fat Tuesday as well. The most famous US Mardi Gras celebration is held in New Orleans with many others held around Louisiana, the Gulf States, Europe and Latin America with huge celebrations in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Venice, Italy.
The New Orleans celebration date from the early 1700s when the city as the capital of French North America. Skirting the law for many years, Mardi Gras was made a state holiday by Louisiana in 1875. Each year since organizations known as “Krewes” put on parades through the streets of New Orleans in the weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday. Each parade is unique an one of those “one in lifetime experiences.” If you haven’t been to the French Quarter in February, put it on the calendar.