Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Different Types of Mardi Gras Festivities

Why is Trump addressing Congress on Mardi Gras?  Who decided that was a good idea?

Or maybe it will be a different kind of address, with a jazz band and beads being tossed around.  Nothing at this point will surprise me.

I know that many people aren't clear on why we celebrate Mardi Gras at all--I think back to how many of my students had no idea about how we came to have  Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday or most any other holiday.  They're happy to have a holiday that mandates drinking in the middle of the week.

I was always old before my time--these kinds of public drunkenness holidays make me anxious.

Today is Mardi Gras, and it's also Shrove Tuesday. It's the day before Ash Wednesday, the day before Lent begins. The holidays of Shrove Tuesday, Carnival, and Mardi Gras have their roots in the self-denial of the Lenten season. These holidays are rooted in  the fasting traditions of Lent and the need to get rid of all the ingredients that you'd be giving up during Lent: alcohol, sugar, eggs, and in some traditions, even dairy foods.

Mardi Gras and Carnival, holidays that come to us out of predominantly Catholic countries, certainly have a more festive air than Shrove Tuesday, which comes to us from some of the more dour traditions of England. The word shrove, which is the past tense of the verb to shrive, which means to seek absolution for sins through confession and penance, is far less festive than the Catholic terms for this day.

In the churches of my childhood, we had pancake suppers on Shrove Tuesday.  I wonder if churches still do that in other parts of the country.

I will celebrate Shrove Tuesday by meeting my friend at Panera.  We will talk about writing and other things which delight us.  It's a different kind of Mardi Gras, but it will make me feel festive nonetheless.