Yesterday was the biggest party in the world. Christian countries all over the globe celebrated Mardi Gras, a feast of food, wine and making merry before the time of Lent.
Lent starts today, 46 days before Easter. It's a Christian convention during which time people give up things they like doing. In the old days, people would try to stop eating altogether. But today, giving up chocolate is considered good enough.
Mardi Gras means 'fat Tuesday' in French. Fatty foods are eaten on the last night before fasting begins. In the past, this was done to use up stores of food before people stopped eating. Foods like lard, meat and eggs were eaten.
In some countries, people still use up their eggs by making pancakes.
Today, people have fun at huge street parades, where they dress up in colourful, and sometimes daring, costumes. 'Floats' are made by decorating trucks with colourful paper. People ride on the floats along the street, or dance next to them.
Sports competitions are also held. In Britain, where the festival is known as Shrove Tuesday, pancake races are popular.
Across the world
Some cities are famous for their wild Mardi Gras celebrations. New Orleans is one of them. People travel to the US for these celebrations. Quebec City in Canada, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Sydney in Australia are also famous for Mardi Gras celebrations. Rio's carnival is legendary. The streets are filled with the sounds of Samba beats as dance schools vie to be champions.
There's no official Mardi Gras celebration in Hong Kong. But Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation organises an annual event called Arts in the Park which is based on a carnival. Children are encouraged to learn different arts and crafts. Professionals from various backgrounds are encouraged to teach their skills to children.
Now do this:
1 What types of food are eaten during Mardi Gras?
a. salty foods
b. fatty foods
c. raw foods
2 Which city in the United States is well known for its Mardi Gras celebrations?
a. New Orleans
3 On which day of the week is Mardi Gras celebrated?
Answers: 1. b, 2. a, 3. a