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Mardi GrasFat Tuesday has grown in popularity in recent years Mardi Gras is also called Carnival Carnival comes from the Latin words carne vale meaning farewell to the flesh The Carnival season starts with the Epiphany also known as Twelfth Night and Three Kings Day Epiphany which falls on January 6 is twelve days after Christmas and celebrates the visit of the Wise Men bearing gifts for the baby Jesus In cultures that celebrate Carnival or Mardi Gras Epiphany starts the series of parties that leads up to Mardi GrasEpiphany is celebrated with a dessert known as the Kings Cake The King Cake is a custom that began in France in the 12th century Legend has it that the cakes were made in a circle to represent the circular routes that the Wise Men took to find Jesus This was done to confuse King Herod and foil his plans of killing the baby Jesus In the early days a coin or bean was hidden inside the cake and whoever found the item was said to have good luck in the coming year In Louisiana bakers now put a small baby representing the baby Jesus in the cake The recipient of the baby is then expected to host the next King Cake party Mardi Gras came to the New World in 1699 when a French explorer Iberville arrived at the Mississippi River about 60 miles south of present day New Orleans He named the spot Point du Mardi Gras because he knew the holiday was being celebrated in his native country that day In New Orleans celebrated Mardi Gras with masked balls and partiesTen years later the official colors of Mardi Gras were chosen purple symbolized justice green symbolized faith and gold symbolized power
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