Mardi Gras is an annual celebration that is observed the day before Ash Wednesday, signifying the beginning of Lent. Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday and is traditionally celebrated by eating rich, fatty foods before the fasting season. Many cities, particularly New Orleans, go all out for the occasion—hosting parades, festivals and contests for the occasion.
In New Orleans, the parade is organized by krewes, which are social clubs whose origins date back to the 19th century. Krewes create the parade floats and wear elaborate costumes while they toss "throws" to the excited people in the crowd. Popular throws include plastic beads, decorative coins (called doubloons), cups, moon pies and small toys. Some krewes amp things up with their throws, tossing lingerie, plungers, shoes and purses to a lucky few.
One of the most popular traditions of Mardi Gras is women flashing their breasts in exchange for throws. This tradition dates back to the late 1880s, according to a social analysis recorded in the "Ritual Disrobement at Mardi Gras: Ceremonial Exchange and Moral Order." Today, Mardi Gras locals typically avoid this practice, but many tourists continue to engage in it on Bourbon street and while watching the parade on balconies. According to the aforementioned study, social scientists recorded over 1,200 women participating in flashing the krewes in 1991.
In honor of Mardi Gras, which falls on February 25th this year, we've collected some of Instagram's finest tattoos themed off this holiday. Take a peek at the festive ink in the gallery below, then let us know your thoughts on this story on social media.