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Historically, Mardi Gras is the storm-like celebration before the calm of the six-week Lent season, when Christians make personal sacrifices (and live more quietly) in the lead-up to Easter. The name itself is French for "Fat Tuesday," a hint at the gluttony and fun-loving holiday that comes before the Christian day of contrition, Ash Wednesday.

On Fat Tuesday, beaded necklaces and false coinage (an imitation of wealth) are thrown from floats and balconies; people overindulge in drink. And although it's celebrated all over the world (with similar Carnival celebrations throughout Europe and South America), Mardi Gras in the U.S. has its own special flavor. Like all the imported cultural traditions that meet in America, Mardi Gras is the product of international influences.

So how does our American interpretation of Fat Tuesday measure up to the original Creole version, best known in Louisiana? We look to the Numerology behind the two different names to see how different the celebrations have become, as the years go by and the good times continue to roll.

Mardi Gras

With a Dominant Impression number of 9, the general feel that the term "Mardi Gras" gives off is idealistic and communal -- after all, the celebration attracts thousands of tourists to Louisiana alone every year. Though the celebrations are known for getting out of control, Mardi Gras' overall reputation is positive.

Coming from a mixed cultural background that closely observed Christian traditions, Mardi Gras is still viewed as an indispensable ritual. It's the feast before the fast, and although it is the polar opposite of what Lent season is meant to be, it is a very high-profile kick-off to a season of religious reflection.

9 is an equal-opportunity number. No one feels left out when 9 arrives at the party, because its general focus is humanitarian. And for all the intensity and debauchery associated with Mardi Gras, it is above all merriment for the masses!

In the wake of the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, 9 shines especially strong as the Dominant Impression number of Mardi Gras. The citizens of New Orleans have continued to hold their annual bash as a way to honor the rich birthright of one of America's most electric holidays.

At its most positive, as a 9, the name "Mardi Gras" encourages a sense of well-being and love in those who hear it. It encourages the best in people -- or, at the very least, the liveliest in people! At its worst, it can cause people to forget their better judgment.

Fat Tuesday

The Numerology of "Fat Tuesday" is reflective of how the actual celebration translates, not only on American soil, but over 250 years after the tradition began. First off, it attracts the daring and adventurous among us, because "Fat Tuesday" carries a Dominant Impression number of 5. There is passion swirling around this holiday's name, proving that even two centuries after the party started, it is still a somewhat exotic ritual to take part in.

Americans tend to let loose at Mardi Gras celebrations and take the revelry up a few notches. That's because a Dominant Impression number of 5 promises that you can do just about anything! This doesn't mean there are no consequences, just that the after-effects won't last too long. Taking part in a 5-type affair means you'll find yourself thinking fast and acting on impulse; luckily, the 5-brand of impulse is generally safe. That doesn't mean you shouldn't be careful, it just means that, in general, there is less danger in a party with a 5 vibration.

A 5 holiday is energetic. It attracts celebrants who are a little unconventional and very outgoing. Funny enough, another quality of 5 is that it hints at the "grey area" of acceptable behavior, and encourages those who hear it to be not lawless, but perhaps less law-abiding, than they would usually be.

The downside to a 5 Dominant Impression number is that it can inspire immaturity and gross overindulgence. After all, a block party the size of an entire city, free-flowing booze and nonstop partying can make any of us forget how old we are.

Mardi Gras vs. Fat Tuesday

The original French term "Mardi Gras" carries with it a heavier emotional meaning and a closer connection to the holiday's religious origins. But all is not lost in translation with a 5, because the underlying themes of "Fat Tuesday" -- gratitude, heritage, vibrancy -- prove that tradition lives on.