Human Planet Explorer
Mardi Gras is French for 'Fat Tuesday' and rightly so. As the day before Ash Wednesday, it is the traditional day for Christians to eat rich foods before fasting through Lent. However, in some part of the world - such as Brazil and New Orleans - the term has now come to stand for revelry which might take place for several days or even weeks before Ash Wednesday.
Stephen begins his journey in New Orleans during its busiest day of the year, Mardi Gras.
Stephen Fry begins his journey up the Mississippi on the streets of New Orleans during its busiest day of the year, Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras (//), also called Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday, in English, refers to events of the Carnival celebrations, beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three King's Day) and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday", reflecting the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season.
Related popular practices are associated with celebrations before the fasting and religious obligations associated with the penitential season of Lent. In countries such as England, Mardi Gras is also known as Shrove Tuesday, which is derived from the word shrive, meaning "confess".