We call it pancake Tuesday here in Ireland but did you know the tradition of Carnival in places like Rio and Mardi Gras in New Orleans come from the same original idea?
It began as a day for Catholics to indulge before Ash Wednesday and the 40 days of Lent that follow and has grown in different ways around the world. Today, New Orleans in the USA is the centre of Mardi Gras celebrations and this is everything you need to know about the festival.
Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday.
Carnival is celebrated in many countries with large Roman Catholic populations and begins on January 6th, the twelfth day after Christmas.
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.
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.
The first Mardi Gras parade took place in 1837.
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.