Why do they call it Fat Tuesday?
Tuesday, February 16, 2010
I know that around here they call it Fat Tuesday because we have a huge Mardi Gras party, catered by Pappadeaux, and my boss makes bread pudding. And there's lots of soda. And I'm pretty sure there's a lot of beer too, but I'm not sure where it is yet. :P I had a normal breakfast, and I swear to the Mardi Gras gods I will consume only one small plate of Cajun deliciousness today. And it will mostly be salad and shrimp. And maybe a couple of stuffed mushrooms. And some ettouffe. And maybe a cookie. But NO bread pudding! And NO sodas!!
The REAL reason they call it "Mardi Gras," (or "Fat Tuesday") of course is that tonight is the last night before the Lenten season begins. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, and traditionally Lent was a time of great sacrifice - not just "giving up sodas for 40 days," but giving up all treats and luxuries, and living in a state of strict penitence to honor the sacrifice that was made by Christ.
Whether you believe in all that or not, Fat Tuesday is the day on which people traditionally gorge themselves on all kinds of treats, and they still do today. The difference, culturally, religiously, and nutritionally speaking, is that most people who celebrate the hell out of Mardi Gras generally ignore Lent, or if they do participate, they participate minimally - certainly with less enthusiasm and vigor than they exercised during Mardi Gras!
Mardi Gras - yet another holiday that's been exploited by various bad-for-you industries as a day without consequences. But in fact, it's a day all about consequences. It is the feast before the fall. It is the last hurrah, the final party, "last call," so to speak. Tomorrow, we're supposed to awaken feeling humbled and ready to deny ourselves the luxuries we overindulge in tonight. And depending on how much you drink tonight, you might end up feeling that way tomorrow anyway.
I'm not preachin', I'm just sayin': Mardi Gras isn't all fun and games. It's about making the conscious decision to wreck our bodies for a night, followed by forty days of quietly rebuilding our bodies and our souls.
I don't know if I believe that repentence is the key to peace. It seems to me that wallowing in one's wrong-doings is counter-intuitive to growth. Nonetheless, I do wonder if I shouldn't pick something to give up tomorrow, something more meaningful than sodas or fast food. Maybe tomorrow is the day I'll quit smoking. Jeez, just thinking about that makes me hope there IS a God, and he DOES care about our self-deprivals. Because I think I'm going to need all the help I can get.
Hope everyone enjoys their Fat Tuesday celebrations!