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Pre-Lenten Mardi Gras celebrations wrapped up yesterday before the marking of Ash Wednesday today. Historians say the tradition dates back to Roman times, when the newly converted Christians retained vestiges of their pagan festival, “Lupercalia,” as a period of celebration before the penance during the 40 days of Lent.

A member of the Mondo Kayo Social and Marching Club parades down St. Charles Avenue during Mardi Gras day on Feb. 9 in New Orleans. Fat Tuesday, or Mardi Gras in French, is a celebration traditionally held before the observance of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Christian Lenten season. (Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)