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History of Mardi Gras
Though the French are credited with the birth of Mardi Gras in America, ancient Romans originated a holiday that served as the foundation for how Mardi Gras is celebrated in the States.
When Romans accepted Christianity, their churches' fathers decided to include, rather than abolish, various forms of pagan rituals into the newfound faith. This carnival like festival, Lupercalia, has, in fact, retained a lot of its personality to this day. Those days of February fun and frivolity would lead up to the season of Lent; thus creating an interpretation for Christians towards their new custom.
But it was a French explorer named Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d'lberville who arrived with his brother to the Gulf of Mexico in 1699. On March 3, as he headed up the Mississippi River, he set up a camp approximately 60 miles south of what is now New Orleans. Back in Paris, Mardi Gras had been celebrated on that day since the Middle Ages. To mark that day, Iberville declared his location Point du Mardi Gras. Though New Orleans is the city most associated with Mardi Gras, it is Mobile, Alabama who first observed the holiday in 1703.
Mardi Gras is celebrated 47 days before Easter.