CHICAGO (CBS) — For Christians, this is Fat Tuesday – the day before the start of Lent.

As WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports, Americans also know Fat Tuesday by its French name – Mardi Gras – a day marked by overindulgence, mostly in food and drink, before a season of fasting and abstinence that will last until Easter Sunday for many.

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LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Bernie Tafoya reports

But if you’re downing yummy paczkis in celebration, remember that the cream-or fruit-filled, deep-fried pastry treats are about 420 calories each, according to the My Fitness Pal app.

And you’ve no doubt seen or worn the purple, green and gold beads thrown during Mardi Gras celebrations, but according to, the official Mardi Gras colors were picked in 1837 – purple representing justice, green representing faith, and gold meaning power.

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While it might be a little too cold in Chicago to celebrate Mardi Gras on the level of New Orleans, several venues across the city are getting in the spirit.

The Rush and Division district on the Near North Side will feature street freaks, stilt-walkers tossing beads, and standup and sketch comedy events at the Division Street bars Mother’s Too, She-nannigans and Bootlegger’s. Proceeds benefit the New Orleans Musicians Clinic.

Several venues are also celebrating Mardi Gras on Halsted Street in Boystown, including Sidetrack, where “body painting, beads and boys” are being advertised as “a carnival of pleasures,” and Spin, which will feature a Fat Tuesday bingo tourney and a dance party.

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• For a list of other Mardi Gras ideas, click here.