oh how i just love the circus!! and the carnival, and the fair, and mardi gras, and, and, and...
i saw tons of these when i was in new orleans in 2002, pre-katrina. i was there just right after mardi gras and was sad that i missed it, but the city was still vibrating from the big festival.
i would just love to go to venice when they have their mardi gras.
but, mardi gras originated in rome, where it was called lupercalia, long before the new world began in europe. the ancient custom began when Christianity was embraced in Rome, and rather than abolish all pagan rituals, it became a period of festivities and merriment that preceded the penance of Lent.