Feathered dogs and skeleton men are just some of the revellers at this year’s Mardi Gras carnival in Louisiana. While the British are tossing a couple of pancakes, the residents of New Orleans are out in force – and sequins - to celebrate the beginning of Lent.
The term ‘Mardi Gras’ – or ‘Fat Tuesday’ – refers to Shrove Tuesday, the day before Catholics traditionally enter into the sacrificial season of Lent.
The origins of the festival can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, where early Christians with pagan roots feasted and celebrated ahead of sombre Lent.
The first record of the holiday being celebrated in Louisiana was from 1699, when French colonialists observed it as part of their Catholic practice. As part of the festivities, strings of beads are thrown from floats to spectators lining the streets, along with cups and toys.