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!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Good luck on your journey - your lungs will thank you
    2799 days ago
  • WEEZIE30
    That was intresting. Not being Catholic, I didn't really know what Mardi Gras was all about. Thanks for sharing.
    2799 days ago
    This is the most incredibly intelligent blog I have ever read! Are you a writer professionally? You really put it all together so well and it was enjoyable for me to read. Thank you. And your yarn on your background page is beautiful! I grew up in the North and never knew a THING about Fat Tuesday until I moved to Houston.... I wonder: is it a Southern holiday??
    2799 days ago
    Loved your blog! It is so true. I never understood the whole blow out before to give up for 40 days! If the 40 days sacrifice lead to actual change, it would be understandable. But normally whatever bad habit it is that is repented up is picked back up after the 40 days (if not before)!

    Occasionally, I have practice Lent with a physical sacrifice, but normally it is more a spiritual dedication for me (without the blow out for Fat Tuesday).

    I will be thinking of you as you work through the Mardi Gras and as you potentially sacrifice cigarettes for Lent! God Bless!
    2799 days ago
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