Mardi Gras arrived in the United States in the late 1600s, thanks to the Le Moyne brothers, whom King Louis XIV sent to defend France’s right to the territory of Louisiane.
Traditionally, Fat Tuesday ushered in the last chance to eat fatty foods and party through the night before the self-denial season of Lent began for Christians.
But even after France decamped from the New World, their traditional spring hurrah stuck around. Check out these vintage photos of Mardi Gras from the early 20th century, which prove it’s always been America’s coolest party.
The royal chariot with Rex, the King of the Carnival, starts the Mardi Gras procession in downtown New Orleans, La., in 1906.
The Rex pageant began as a part of Mardi Gras in 1872.
This Mardi Gras parade took place between 1890 and 1910.