TOTD Feb 13, 2018: Celebrating Mardi Gras?

Mardi Gras — literally “Tuesday, Fat” — is simply the day before Ash Wednesday, when us Roman Catholics and a few relations begin a period of self-deprivation and critical self-reflection.

The idea is that one must get in a good dose of revelry (and maybe even some debauchery) to tide one through the 40-day drought.  And it is more than just tacitly endorsed by the church hierarchy, as many parishes host a varieties of parties.  Well, they endorse the revelry, at least.

Unfortunately, I find that I can’t really enjoy the parties.  I feel a nagging guilt about partying to escape the impact of my upcoming Lenten obligations.  And yes, I know that I choose these obligations by choosing to be Roman Catholic — there’s no real compulsion outside of my faith.  That actually makes it  worse for me — I’d be delighted to thumb my nose at a government-imposed religious observance.

What to do?  I’ve found that if I dwell on it, I just end up starting the self-critical examinations a day early.  My approach in the last few years has been to pick up a good book — something unserious I can read for pleasure — and a tumbler of good Scotch.  Ash Wednesday will come soon enough, and I’m already fat. /-:

If you observe Lent, what do you do for Mardi Gras?


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13 thoughts on “TOTD Feb 13, 2018: Celebrating Mardi Gras?”

  1. I live in Baptist/Pentecostal/Evangelical world.  In my office there are a few Catholics.  I am the only Lutheran.  We have a king cake at the office.  Every year the Catholics have to explain that all over again to the Baptists.

    At home we typically don’t do anything.  In fact, I am booked this Tuesday evening at our monthly Elders’ Meeting; we considered moving the date when we looked at the calendar last month, and nobody expressed any interest, so we left it where it fell.

    We will have our Ash Wednesday, and do our typical Lutheran “lite” version of a Lenten discipline.   I have prepared the ashes for my congregation for the past 15 years.  Snooks is the accompanist scheduled for the evening Ash Wednesday worship, so we will go to that instead of the midday service.

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  2. Thanks, Phil, for explaining this. It has never made sense to me to pig out in order to fast. From what I have thought about fasting it is not to deprive oneself but to get a spiritual blessing by being focused on the eternal. In other words, if you ain’t going toward happy you are doing it wrong.

    For some reason Mardi Gras reminds me of a Bachelor Party.

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  3. Richard Easton:
    What’s a husband supposed to do when Valentine’s Day is also Ash Wednesday?

    Both of you go to Ash Wednesday worship at midday, and then go out to a restaurant where you can dine according to your Lenten discipline.

    She is still your Valentine.   I hope she shares your faith and your discipline.

    And bring flowers.

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  4. A thought for those feeling a little guilty about enjoying their Marti Gras so much immediately before Lent.

    Consider a man at the end of his work day who relaxes in front of the TV. He hears the winning lottery numbers called out and he has won! After he lets it sink in he decides that tomorrow he will go to work as always. This time though he will carefully observe his day with its trials and frustrations, knowing that he will not see this life again. The next day he will submit his winning ticket and a new life will start  He took a day to look back on the life he was leaving behind and realized that it was over.

    Perhaps one could enjoy the party with all the good and bad it represents, knowing that a new and different one is meant to start.

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  5. 10 Cents:
    Does anyone know the history of Lent? When did it start? Mardi Gras? Where? Why?

    For history questions like that I go to the Catholic Encyclopedia.  It is not necessarily the best source but it is always interesting.   It says that a fast was common preparation in advance of Easter by the late second century, but practiced for differing lengths in different places.  By the end of the fifth century it seems to have settled on 40 days.

    http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/09152a.htm

    Just be advised that the Catholic Encyclopedia entries are all about a century old, and it has not been updated since the 1920s.   So, for example, it dates Ash Wednesday from before the eighth century, but I think more recent scholarship has pushed that back to the sixth century.

    I don’t know about Mardi Gras.  I think it is only about a thousand years old.

     

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  6. All very interesting!

    I’ll be out tonight, since a friend invited me to her DAR meeting, and there’s dinner involved so I’ll get my fill for sure.  My husband’s church (Episcopal) has a pancake supper tonight for Mardi Gras, he said he’ll go on over to that. They asked anyone who has palms from last Palm Sunday to bring them along, and they’ll burn them in a brief ceremony to add to the ashes for Ash Wednesday, which is traditional. I saved a little folded cross made from palms from last year, so he’ll take that along.

     

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  7. The Orthodox kind of ease into Lent. This is the first week of Great Lent for the Orthodox. It is known as Cheesefare because you can eat anything except meat (beef, pork, poultry, etc.) Dairy and fish is allowed. Next Monday we forgo meat, dairy, and fish. (Shellfish is allowed, but except for squid and octopus I am allergic to it. So, while the rest of the family is chowing down on shrimp and oysters, I have to settle for beans.) This lasts until Palm Sunday, where fish is allowed.

    Then strict fasting until after the midnight service on Easter Sunday.  (Our tradition is to stop off at the Whataburger between the church and home and order a bacon double-cheeseburger. They are open 24 hours.)

    The week before Cheesefare is a normal week (vegan on Wednesday and Friday). The week prior to that is Meatfare – a fast free week, which to me signals the beginning of the Lenten season.

    During Cheesefare we have one blini night. Blini are thin pancakes which are loaded with sour cream, cheese, caviar, smoked and pickled fish, and various fruit, jams, and preserves with melted butter drizzled over it. Think of a pancake taco. It is part of the effort to clear the refrigerator of perishable dairy and fish prior to Lent. Also, we don’t put everything in one blini – generally you have a fish or fish and cheese blini or a “dessert” blini with the fruit.

    I may do blini Saturday – my sons will be down this weekend because we are doing the forty-day memorial for Janet on Sunday.

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