Fast Facts: What you need to know about Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras costume

Here’s a look at what you need to know about Mardi Gras, a celebration held the day before the fasting season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday.

Facts:
March 4, 2014 - Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, is also known as Shrove Tuesday.

Parades and Parties:
Mardi Gras Day is the last day of Carnival season.

Carnival is celebrated in countries with large Roman Catholic populations.

It began Jan. 6, 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 Katrina, the first Mardi Gras saw 700,000.

1837 – First Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans.

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.