The main school of thought concerning Mardi Gras, is it started thousands of years ago, as a celebration of fertility. Eventually, the Catholic church became involved, in an effort, to stop parishioners from partaking in pagan festivals. The Church changed the name to Carnival and had the season coincide with the seasons of the Catholic calendar.
Mardi Gras, at one time, began on Twelfth Night, January Sixth, each year. Twelfth Night was the last of the twelve days of Christmas. However, now it is set to end forty-nine days before Easter Sunday.
Epiphany is the time, between Twelfth Night and Mardi Gras Day, when all the parades and balls are scheduled.
Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras) is the last day of Epiphany.
Ash Wednesday is the first day of the Lenten season, which runs for forty days, until Easter Sunday.
Parades are public events, which anyone may attend, but the balls are private affairs for the Krewe members and their guests. Most balls are held after the parade and the this is where the Royalty is announced as they make their way into the party. Each parade has a King, queen, maids, lieutenants, laidies-in-waiting, and pages. The balls are highly formal affairs with black-tie tuxedos and ball gowns. Some balls are similar to masquerades, as they require attendees to where masks, headdresses, and costumes. Generally, each ball will share the theme of the Krewe, and revelers must include the theme in their outfits.
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