Today marks the celebration of Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday. March 4th of every year brings colorful parades, masks and costumes in the streets of New Orleans, Louisiana. Mardi Gras celebrations date back to Medieval Europe. In New Orleans, Mardi Gras celebrations grew out of Catholicism but also wove in “French celebrations, African music and the masquerade tradition,” said Karen Leathem, museum historian for the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans.
This year, they have a weather surprise with some of the coldest temperatures. Carnival costumes will turn into layered clothing with a cold and wet forecast for New Orleans, Baton Rouge and most of the north shore. Temperatures of 29 to 32 degrees are expected to last 2 to 6 hours. Nevertheless, the people will continue to celebrate in the streets.
The first written record of Mardi Gras is from 1699 with gatherings around a campfire. By the 1730s, much of our modern-day traditions had started: People wore masks in processions, with slaves carrying flambeaux, or torches, Leathem said.
It was in 1875 when Fat Tuesday became an official holiday in Louisiana.