Monday, February 11, 2013

Fat and Happy on Fat Tuesday

So, there is a school of thought out there that celebrating Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) is a not-very-Catholic thing to do -- and mumblings and whispers and sometimes sneers -- that the very word "carnival" implies sins of "the flesh."  And, well, I guess this feeling of "taintedness" is understandable, seeing as this pre-Lenten festival has been an excuse for debauchery for hundreds of years.  We all know how in New Orleans and Rio deJanero and other places in the Latin world especially, the day before Ash Wednesday has become a free-for-all, an excuse to flout the Commandments -- and good  common sense.... Shame on them!  It's especially irritating when people who don't even sacrifice for Lent have the nerve to celebrate during Shrovetide!  They're missing the whole point. 

Montgomery Clift in I Confess
 -- Great movie!

 "Shrovetide"  is the alternative name for Fat Tuesday  and comes from the words meaning to be shriven or confessed, which is what Catholics traditionally do on the Tuesday before the beginning of Lent. We're preparing.  And, along with going to Confession in order to enter the Lenten season with sparkling clean souls, we look ahead to the penitential season with an eye to what we'll be offering up to further prepare for the glorious feast of Easter.  All the talk in Catholic circles right now is about what we'll be "giving up."  Who is going to take the plunge and give up coffee?  Or sweets?  Will we turn off the TV?  Should we observe a blog "silence" for the forty days?   And today, Shrove Tuesday, is the last day to make up our minds and indulge in our soon-to-be-sacrificed pleasures. 

There are certainly people -- nay, cities -- nay,  whole countries! -- who use today's celebration as an excuse to sin,  but it's not anti-Catholic or evil to look ahead to a proper observation of Lent and take a day or two to enjoy the things we'll soon be giving up.  Case in point: the word "carnival" originally came from the Italian word carcarnevale -- which means "to put away the meat" -- which is what we're getting ready to do.  The traditional observation of the Lenten season requires those over seven years of age (and under sixty) to partially abstain from meat every day of the week except Sunday, and all day, as usual, on Fridays.  That means meat is allowed only at the main meal of the day.  And everyone over twenty-one and under sixty fasts: we don't eat between meals and of the three meals in a day, the main meal should equal the size of the two smaller meals together. It's tough!  I know I, for one, am looking forward to it as a challenge and a chance for grace, but -- well: Ugh! So, on the days before Lent, I have purposely crammed in as much meat into every meal as I could. As well as pigging out between meals and guzzling coffee...   Why? Well, duh! Because I can!  Until tomorrow.


When I will happily and voluntarily give it all up.

But -- anyway -- today is Fat Tuesday and the name of the game is to celebrate while we have a chance! To say goodbye to meat, goodbye to snacking -- and for us, goodbye to DVDs and Wii and desserts.  And for me, goodbye to coffee and slacks and sleeping in past 7 a.m.  (Even on Saturdays -- sigh -- which may kill me!)  It certainly does not mean going to New Orleans or any local pub, either, and behaving like a fool.  But it does mean that we are playing Mariocart and watching movies and eating sweets -- between meals, mind you -- until midnight tonight.  And there will be pancakes and bacon for dinner. 

Lent is a good time. An important time. It's one of the most productive periods of the year for spiritual growth. A time of consciously disciplining ourselves for love of God in memory of Christ's sacrifice for us. It's a cleansing time, a time of recollection.  It's all good.  But, let's be real about this. If you enjoy Lent, you're not doing it right!

Fun Things To Do Before Tomorrow!

* Even if you can't pack up and do it yourself, at least run over and check out all the fun going on with the Shrove  Hunters.

* Here's a Pancake maze to print out for the kiddos.

* Bake some Polish Packzis!  Or Pennsylvania Dutch Fasnachts!  Or Swedish Fastelavnsboller ! (If you're really lazy or pressed for time, try some "cheater Packzis"...)

* Fry up some pancakes and bacon!  Because fats, eggs, milk, and butter were at one time abstained from in Lent, as well as meats, this combination became the traditional "farewell" dinner for Shrove Tuesday.  And the kids love it!  (But you may have to have them run around the block a couple of times to get them to burn off the sugar rush before bedtime!)

* Then take some time to contemplate and discuss with the children the gravity of the coming season and the wisdom of the Church in  "that wonderful, eternal rhythm of high and low tide that makes up the year of the Church: times of waiting alternate with times of fulfillment, the lean weeks of Lent with the feasts of Easter and Pentecost, times of mourning with seasons of rejoicing."

~ Maria von Trapp, Around the Year with the Trapp Family

Happy Fat Tuesday, everyone!

*This post is a "rehash" from last year. (It's just so much easier to do that sometimes... especially when I really just don't have anything much to add, ya know?)  

BUT: to update for this year....  As a family, we're giving up the TV and desserts, as always.  I'm going to take the plunge again and give up coffee (I need to, anyway, healthwise), but, since I wear skirts 90% of the time, anyway -- it seems redundant to give up slacks.  I'm not going to set myself up for failure by trying to be up by 7 am this year (I need all the beauty sleep I can get!), but I am giving up my new-found obsession, Pintrest, until Easter.  And, my plans for the blog are to... well, to keep on blogging!  But to find inspirational quotes and beautiful images to go along with them (without using Pintrest!) -- because, seriously -- gotta have something fun to do or I'll go nuts!    

My best wishes to all for a blessed and fruitful Lenten season this year!  Keep on Lenten On!


MightyMom said...

I have an Aunt who lives in New Orleans and works on a Krewe and rides on a float in the Muses parade every year on the Thursday before Mardi Gras. I asked her about all the craziness there. She says it's tourists who think of it as a free for all. That Mardi Gras for New Orleaneans used to be and is sposed to be a family affair. The floats are political satire in nature.

And the Party atmosphere came from getting rid/using up all of your eggs, butter, milk as well as meat, ALL of which were once fasted from during Lent. How best to use up eggs butter and milk on the last day before a 6 week fast and abstinence??? BAKE A CAKE....or two...or three...invite the neighbors to eat all these cakes...and, well, throw a party!!

Remember, New Orleans and the Latin world have a very strong and rich CATHOLIC heritage out of which their celebrations, including Mardi Gras have come.

To say Mardi Gras is anti-Catholic is like saying Christmas is anti-Christian.

MightyMom said...

oh, and Lisa,

Happy Mardi Gras to you and your family! enjoy those snacks and desserts. :-)

Lisa said...

Amen to what you said, Sarah! And happy, happy to you guys, too! *:0)

becky said...

Lisa, you made a typo: all over 7 abstain--21 and over fast. A fruitful Lent to you all!

Lisa said...

Jumpin Jiminy! Thanks, Becky! I'm gonna have to fire my copy editor! Dan's supposed to catch those kinds of mistakes for me!

I corrected it! (Not just a little important!)