The term Mardi Gras is a French expression meaning "Fat Tuesday" and possibly refers to the last chance people can indulge before Lent.
The official colors for Mardi Gras are purple, green and gold. These colors were chosen in 1872 by the King of Carnival, Rex. The colors represent the following:
- purple -- justice
- green -- faith
- gold -- power
Mardi Gras has events organized by private clubs known as krewes. Today there are about 60 krewes that plan the parades and balls of New Orleans' Mardi Gras. The oldest krewe, the Krewe of Comus, was founded in 1857 by men who feared the outrageous antics of Mardi Gras would lead to the holiday being outlawed.
If you go to a Mardi Gras parade, you can get beads by shouting the well-known phrase, "Throw me something, mister!"