. Benjamin Franklin
The challenge to focus – to decide if we, as individuals and as a culture, are celebrating Ash Wednesday or Valentine’s Day…is an existential question troubling good people around the globe.
My choice is to focus on neither, i.e. to learn more about Fat Tuesday, aka Shrove Tuesday. It’s less controversial and because Fat Tuesday precedes either Valentine’s day OR Ash Wednesday.…
It’s also an overlooked opportunity to celebrate the gustatory elegance of pancakes – not to mention the glories of Mardi Gras.
About Shrove Tuesday – It’s got to do with having been “shriven” of one’s sins, a good thing to do before Lent starts the next day (Ash Wednesday). Knowing that Lent means forty days of fasting this is not simply an occasion to bulk up a bit. As a matter of fact, the tradition comes from the truth that people had to rid their larders of eggs, milk and other fattening ingredients – off the diet for Lent but key ingredients of pancakes! And therein lies the story of “Fat Tuesday” – not so much a day to celebrate obesity as a day to rid the pantry of fats. Fat Tuesday/Shrove Tuesday – it’s the day to ready the cupboards/frig/diet for Lent.
Also, a day to celebrate! Mardi Gras tops the charts! Mardi Gras in Rio is not a day but a grand celebration of traditions, music, dance and, best of all, The Parade!
On the outside chance you won’t make it to this year’s Mardi Gras, plan to join family and friends for a pancake feast to honor and learn more about the global meaning of the day. Mardi Gras is a grand celebration of traditions that encompass biblical, liturgical, ethnic, even local chauvinism and the human affinity for pancakes – possibly fueled by the 40 days of Fast that follow…
Ash Wednesday, Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Valentine’s Day – each has its own tradition that enriches this mid-winter week with meaning. Have a pancake to celebrate our shared heritage!
*my favorite Lenten quote….