Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove Tuesday, Carnival, and even Pancake Day in the UK, is an annual festival. Falling just before Lent, it traditionally marks the last opportunity for fun and feasting before 40 days of "self-denial". Mardi Gras means "Fat Tuesday" in French.
Festivities begin at the beginning of February, leading up to Mardi Gras day, and consist of parades, dancing in the street, costumes and masked balls. The modern Carnival tradition developed in Europe in the Middle ages, and is celebrated mainly in Roman Catholic communities in Europe and the Americas today. Some of the most famous celebrations are held in Nice (France), Cologne (Germany), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and New Orleans (USA)