Like other Carnival celebrations, Mardi Gras grew from the Christian practice of feasting and celebrating on 'Mardi Gras' — which means 'Fat' Tuesday - on Shrove Tuesday, just before the solemn fasting of the day pre-Easter season of Lent. The actual dates differ every year. Shrove Tuesday can happen during February or early March, and Carnival season begins immediately after the 12th day of Christmas, continuing up to the Eve of Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins. Other places in the world celebrate pre-Lent, too; you've probably heard of famous Carnivals in Venice, the Caribbean, in Rio and elsewhere. But New Orleans' Mardi Gras has its own unique character. The city's French-Creole heritage and culture and cuisine, steamy Southern climate - and oh, that famous local jazz! Thousands of people from North America and around the world flock to Mardi Gras. Here's how to celebrate in true N'awlins style:. Fat Tuesday is the one day of the year when eating fried foods is a virtue.
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F inally, the season of making errors in New Orleans is here. And as a longtime resident, I can tell you that nothing, save Mardi Gras day itself, has ever lived up to its star billing like the Decadence Ball. The event was the true carnival torchbearer, much more so than the dowdy official season-opening parties. My own invitation had appeared a week earlier, attached with a ribbon to my front door. The year before, 32 musicians had stood on stage at the height of the festivities, not including the six totally nude body-painted female vocalists.
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