Lent is a time for fasting and sacrifice in Christianity, so Mardi Gras is viewed as the final opportunity to indulge in earthly pleasures. Mardi Gras celebrations are called carnival or carnivàle in many parts of the world. Officially, Mardi Gras season begins on January 6, which is the Feast of the Epiphany, or the end of the Christmas season, in Christianity. Kameleon007/iStock via Getty ImagesThe practice of handing out trinkets during Mardi Gras can be traced back to the 19th century. If you visit New Orleans outside of Mardi Gras season, you can visit Mardi Gras World at Kern's warehouse to see floats from past parades and see sculptures being constructed for upcoming celebrations.