365 Days of Random

Random musings about nothing at all

Mardi Gras

Yes, today is Mardi Gras – aka – Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, and Pancake Tuesday. It marks the day before the Catholic season of Lent and is traditionally a day of indulgence. In New Orleans people celebrate with days of food and drink and merriment… the true “Mardi Gras” parade. In places in South America (and cities like Toronto with large cultural influence from that region) celebrate “Carnival” – a very colourful and splendid multi day celebration.

I’ve never been to New Orleans but it’s definitely a place that I’d love to check out at some point in time. Mardi Gras in New Orleans would certainly be an experience. Although I am not sure I could take all the ‘crazy’ that occurs. Sometimes I wonder how far people can take the idea of a ‘day of indulgence’. New Orleans certainly seems to have found a way to elevate this idea to a type of art. Carnival I’ve had just a tad more exposure to. But even then only peripheral experience. Before I moved to DC I lived just outside of the city of Toronto. They have a large “Carnival” celebration and from what I’ve heard it’s fairly ‘traditional’ and quite similar to the Brazilian festival. Of course nothing can really compare to Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. That’s another experience that I’d love to gain at some point in my lifetime.

Growing up in a small town outside of Ottawa, Mardi Gras was simply called Pancake Tuesday. It was the one day a year that my mom would let us have pancakes for dinner AND cake for dessert. We were allowed to indulge – at least to a certain degree. It was also the day we had to ‘announce’ what we were planning to give up for Lent. As kids it’s really hard to think about and commit to giving something up for 40 days. It seems like a lifetime. But we always managed to do it. For me the hardest part was the my birthday ALWAYS fell within Lent. And without exception I always gave up something that I wanted to have during my birthday party – chocolate, ice cream, chips, candy… But my mom was cool – she ‘exempted’ my birthday so that on that day (or on the day of whatever my party was if I preferred) my sisters and I would  be able to have the thing we’d given up. I respect her for that. Rather than needing to strictly adhere to the rules surrounding Lent she would bend them to allow kids to be kids – at least on my birthday. On the other hand, she didn’t tell us until college that the Catholic church doesn’t count the SUNDAYS during Lent so your ‘fast’ doesn’t apply that day. I guess it was her way of making up for letting us slide for that one day. In the end I’d rather have my birthday exempted anyway so it all worked out.

This year for “Mardi Gras” I celebrated with Rice Krispy treats and hot chocolate for breakfast. I knew I wouldn’t be home to make my traditional “Pancake” dinner so I traded out my meal of indulgence. I spent a couple of hours this evening climbing so I guess the indulgence this year was balanced out more than most.


March 8, 2011 Posted by | Faith | , , , , | Leave a comment