Mardi Gras (Martes de Carnaval), also known as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day, refers to the traditional celebration held on the last day of carnival, when people would eat up all the rich and fatty foods in their homes before Lent (Cuaresma).
The word carnival comes from medieval Latin carnelevamen: carn (flesh or meat) + levare (put away).
New Orleans holds the most famous Mardi Gras celebrations in the United States. In 1699, French settlers introduced this tradition from Europe, where a mixture of pagan and Christian festivities had been held since Roman times. Masked balls, street parties and feasts soon spread to other parts of Louisiana.
In 1857, a group of New Orleans businessmen created a secret society called the Mistick Krewe of Comus, which organized a parade with marching music bands and decorated floats (carrozas). Since then krewes (comparsas) have become a permanent feature of the Mardi Gras celebrations.