Laissez les bons temps rouler!

That ("Let the good times roll") is what many Mardi Gras revelers will be saying and practicing as Fat Tuesday approaches. The weeks of celebration will culminate this Tuesday with more parades, beads and fatty foods before the austere season of Lent arrives.

The celebration stems from a pagan traditions in ancient Rome of Saturnalia and Lupercalia. Once Europe was Christianized, the church incorporated the traditions into the new faith. When the Carnival season made its way over to the New World, Catholic colonies like Louisiana embraced the festival where it became a legal holiday in 1875.

In modern times, Carnivals in major cities around the world, including New Orleans, have become major celebrations. For those that want to partake in the festivities in New Orleans but are unsure of what means what, below are a list of commonly used Mardi Gras terms that will have you celebrating like a local:

Popular Terms

King Cake – A cake with a plastic baby figurine baked inside to represent Baby Jesus. The person who finds the baby is believed to have various privileges and obligations.

Krewe – Groups that organize Mardi Gras parades.

Super Krewe – A giant krewe that hosts larger parades, some of which bring celebrities. This year, Hugh Laurie and Quentin Tarantino will partake in two separate superkrewe parades.

Throws – items tossed from the parade floats. These could be beads, doubloons, cups, homemade trinkets and toys.

French Terms

une babiole – a trinket

un bal masqué -- a costume ball

un bijou -- a jewel

le capitaine -- the captain

un char -- a float

un collier -- a necklace

un costume -- a costume

le courir – a Mardi gras run

une couronne -- a crown

un défilé -- a parade

un déguisement -- a disguise

un doublon -- a doubloon

une effigie -- an effigy

un feu de joie -- a bonfire

un flambeau -- a torch

la foule -- a crowd

un krewe -- a krewe, a group that organize Mardi Gras parades

un mardi gras -- a person who really gets into celebrating Mardi Gras

le masque -- mask (make a Mardi Gras mask)

une paillette -- sequin

une perle -- bead

la plume -- feather

la reine -- queen

le roi -- king