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Mardi Gras, Carnival in US, around the world: See photos of celebrations through the years

Revelers gather outside the Toulouse Theatre in the French Quarter ahead of Fat Tuesday in New Orleans, Friday, Feb. 9, 2024. Carnival season 2024 is entering its final days in New Orleans with big parades on the city's main thoroughfares and smaller, offbeat walking clubs strolling the old French Quarter.
USA TODAY

Mardi Gras, which means Fat Tuesday in French, is a celebration that starts on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. It is observed by millions all around the world and is often referred to as Carnival. While Mardi Gras and Carnival are often used interchangeably, there is a key difference between the two. Mardi Gras signifies one day while Carnival encompasses the whole season and begins a period of feasting which starts on Jan. 6. This is known as Feast of the Epiphany.

For the carnival season, many places hold weeks-long extravaganzas complete with parades, which often feature colorful floats and people in costumes, festive balls, and other events.

Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and Trinidad and Tobago have the longest carnival celebrations, some of them last for several months from the previous year.

In Rome, when Christianity became the prominent religion of the country, it was decided that local traditions would be incorporated with Christian holidays. With Mardi Gras being one of them, the celebration starts before Lent, a practice in which Christians fast for 40 days until Easter Sunday, according to .

As Christianity gained popularity, so did Mardi Gras. Both of them spread to other European countries like France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom.

After making a name for itself in other countries, Mardi Gras started to make a presence in other places like Austria, Brazil, Italy, Portugal, Russia, Switzerland, and Trinidad and Tobago, according to .

Mardi Gras reportedly made its way to North America by way of French explorers, according to .

In the United States, many southern cities like New Orleans, Louisiana and Mobile, Alabama participate in the celebration.

The dates for Mardi Gras vary each year but it always falls exactly 47 days before Easter. This year, Mardi Gras is on Tuesday Feb. 13.

As 2024 celebrations are underway, take a look at how revelers are taking part in festivities now and have in years past all around the world.

When is Mardi Gras?Prep the king cake, here are the details for Fat Tuesday 2024

Mardi Gras and Carnival around the world, through the years

ELZACH, GERMANY - FEBRUARY 26: Wood sculptor Adrian Burger chisels at a wooden mask that he is preparing for a client for Carnival, locally called Fastnacht or Fasnet, at his workshop on February 26, 2014 in Elzach, Germany. Burger produces about 120 masks a year for local revelers but also for collectors, and is one of four artisans in Elzach who have specialized in the masks in a local tradition going back to the 16th century. Carnival in the region is already underway and will continue through early next week in celebrations similar to shrovetide or Mardi Gras.
Revellers of Imperatriz samba school perform during the second night of the carnival parade at the Sambadrome in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on february 09, 2016. AFP PHOTO / CHRISTOPHE SIMON.
Artist Jacques Tilly poses in front of one of his carnival floats featuring Russia's President Vladimir Putin taking a blood bath in a Ukraine-designed bathtub during a Rose Monday street carnival parade in Duesseldorf, western Germany, on February 20, 2023.
Revellers are see during the traditional carnival procession on February 25, 2020 in Bad Aussee in Austria. - The spring figures of the Aussee carnival wear so-called Flinserl dresses that are made of natural linen, the colourful cloth patches are in turn embroidered with silver sequins.
Masked revellers wearing period costumes pose during the traditional Venice Carnival, on February 4, 2024.
PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO - AUGUST 04: General view of the Trinidad & Tobago carnival float during the Opening Ceremony of the 2023 Youth Commonwealth Games at Hasely Crawford Stadium on August 04, 2023 in Port of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago.
The 2024 Krewe of Janus a虃鈧揓ammina虃鈧劉 with Janusa虃鈧 Mardi Gras parade rolled through the Twin Cities on Saturday, February 3rd.
NEW ORLEANS - FEBRUARY 18: People reach for mardi gras beads being thrown from a float during the Pontchartrain Mardi Gras parade February 18, 2006 in the Garden District of New Orleans, Louisiana. New Orleans kicked off the Mardi Gras week with parades by several krewes.
A parade participant throws Mardi Gras beads from a float during Pegasus Parade on St. Charles Ave. in New Orleans' Garden District, Saturday, Feb 18, 2006.
People reach for beads and trinkets during the Krewe of Rex parade on Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015. Revelers in glitzy costumes filled the streets of New Orleans for the annual fat Tuesday bash, opening a day of partying and parades.
Donna Manwaring calls for beads at the entrance to Bourbon St, as the Endymion parade rolls down Canal Street during Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans, 26 February 2006. New Orleans is celebrating its first Mardi Gras since Hurricane Katrina. AFP PHOTO / Robyn Beck
The Krewe of Iris parade makes its way along the Uptown route in New Orleans on Saturday, March 2, 2019. Iris was founded in 1917, and is the oldest all-female krewe in New Orleans.
Revelers grab for beads during the Krewe of Endymion Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans Saturday, Feb. 2, 2008. Carnival revelers were greeted with good weather today in the weekend before Fat Tuesday Feb. 5.
Carolyn Switzer and Judy Powell, of Thomasville, Ala., plead for throws during the Order of Athena parade along Conception Street in Mobile, Ala., Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2005. Thousands flocked to parades to catch trinkets and other treats tossed by maskers, members of some 30 different mystic organizations riding colorful floats.
This larger-than-life gator is traditionally the last float in Universal Orlando's Mardi Gras parade. The whole thing is covered in glitter, which the resort's decor team applies by hand.
Actress Mariska Hargitay rides in the Orpheus Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013.
Entertainer Harry Connick, Jr. rides in the Orpheus Mardi Gras parade as it rolls through the streets of New Orleans, Monday, Feb. 11, 2013. Connick is the founder of the parade.
Singer-songwriter Robin Thicke reigns as Bacchus LII during a parade in the run-up to Fat Tuesday finale in Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. This year's theme was "Bacchus's Wild, Wild West" and it was led by 1,600 riders. Riding as special guests were the Little League World Series Champs from River Ridge.
Revelers party on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans on Fat Tuesday, in this this Feb. 28, 2006, file photo. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon/FILE)