Scholars believe that Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, has its earliest roots in pre-Christian times. The festival represented the extra, and therefore unrestricted, days added to the year to make the lunar and solar calendars link up properly. Or another explanation is it was simply a celebration to mark the coming of spring. It occurs on the day before Ash Wednesday. On Ash Wednesday, Catholics and people from other Christian denominations give up vices and begin the 40-day period of Lent, which ends on Easter. In the early days of Christianity, the festival looked a lot as it does today with days of feasting and drinking and with people wearing masks to hide their identities. In Great Britain, nobleman rode through the country giving peasants cakes, money and small gifts. The French explorer Sieur d’Iberville brought Mardi Gras to America in 1699 at the site of what is today New Orleans.