Story by CNN Wire
According to historians, festivities resembling Mardi Gras go back thousands of years to ancient Roman festivals celebrating the harvest season. After Christianity arrived in Rome, old traditions were incorporated into the new faith and debauchery became a prelude to the Lenten season.
During Saturnalia, a winter solstice celebration of Saturn, the god of agriculture, beans were baked into cakes to celebrate the harvest. Whoever found the bean was named “king of the day.” In the Middle Ages, Christianity appropriated the tradition for the festival of the Epiphany, also known as Three Kings’ Day.