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Mardi Gras: Fat Tuesday

(pron. MAR-dee-GRAW) The day before Lent and the last day of a three day festival called Carnival: Farewell to Meat in Europe, France, United States and Latin America. Carrus navalis is a Greek cart carrying a statue of a god in procession at the annual festivities honoring the god Phoebus-Apollo.

In Nice, Cannes, Menton and Grasse, France people go out into the streets in costume, toot tin horns, sing and pelt passers-by with confetti and flowers. Each town has its own bataille de fleurs: battle of flowers where cars and floats drive for hours along the streets. An effigy of King Carnival surrounded by a train of clowns and buffoons is formally presented the keys to the the city of Nice. On Mardi Gras night he is burned at the stake after a torchlight procession.

In Paris butchers observe Carnival with the féte of the Boeuf Gras or Fat Ox. An ox decked with garlands, flowers, ribbons and festoons of green, is led through the streets in procession. The beast is followed by a triumphal cart bearing a little boy known as the King of the Butchers. The crowd pays tribute to the small king by blowing horns and throwing confetti, flowers and sweets. There are parades and balls. Festivities end at midnight. ( 6, 7, 9)

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