Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why is today 'fat'?


And what does it have to do with pancakes? In a real tiny nutshell, here is your religion class for the day.

Today has several names: Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, everyone's favorite, Mardi Gras, and, well, just plain ol' Tuesday for those who pretty much ignore it.

Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday)
'Shrove' is the past tense of the old English word (shrive), meaning to gain absolution for your sins by confessing and doing penance, the necessary prerequisite for the beginning of the Lenten season, during which you must by pious & penitential. Referring to today as 'Shrove Tuesday' originated in the Anglican Church, mainly the UK, Ireland, Canada, and Australia. Other Anglican churches worldwide, as well as American Episcopalians, Lutherans & Catholics, use the same terminology.

Those crazy Brits also have the tradition of eating pancakes on this day, as it was a good way of using up the fat & eggs that they were supposed to abstain from eating during Lent (meat, butter & eggs were considered pleasurable foods).

**Side note: although how can anyone completely give up fat? The human body has to have some fat every day or it would suffer and die. The covering on your nerve cells and a good part of your brain is made up of fat. If you didn't get any, you would develop twitching spasms, paralysis, and you would drool vacantly as your mind slowly said sayonara. So snarf up that fat, folks! It's good for you!**

Just kidding . . . sort of.

Anyway, you will see that tradition carried over in many Episcopal, Lutheran & Catholic churches here as the "Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper".

I think my favorite of the traditional Lenten dishes has to be the Festy Cock, a tasty Scottish treat. But then, the name of this dish shouldn't surprise anyone. These are the people who also came up with this (same land mass anyway):


Carnivale / Mardi Gras
Most of the rest of Europe, South America, heck, most of the rest of the Christian world, celebrates Carnivale (car-nee-vahl) as a season, some referring to it as Mardi Gras, and concluding on the Tuesday before Lent. Most of us, though, think of Mardi Gras as only Tuesday. The length of the season varies, with some cultures (including New Orleans) finding an excuse to celebrate for a month or more, starting on the Twelfth Night celebration of Christmas. Others are more restrained, and limit their festivities to the few days before Ash Wednesday. All of them, though, culminate their celebrations on the Tuesday before Lent.

Actually, Mardi Gras is the French equivalent of Tuesday (Mardi) + Fat (Gras) = Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent.

Not every Christian denomination even observes Lent, so not everyone is aware of today's significance, although everyone seems to know what Mardi Gras looks like, especially in New Orleans, with the traditional colors of purple (justice), gold (power), and green (faith).


Something tells me, though, that most of the people participating in Mardi Gras in New Orleans tonight aren't doing it as part of a religious observance, unless your religion includes shaking your chest, drunken debauchery, and donning odd masks to dance in the streets. Although, dancing is in the Bible, right?

I don't think you will see anyone at the Episcopal Church tonight flashing their boobs so their fellow parishioners will throw pancakes at them. But you never know, especially in New Jersey, that hotbed of Episcopal shenanigans.

For more information, click on these links: New Orleans Mardi Gras, Mardi Gras, Carnivale, and Shrove Tuesday.

I was lazy tonight and only used Wiki. Sorry.

ps - BS told me I should include a picture of titties (his word), and use the Arabic word for them so people in Saudi Arabia can Google it and be led to this post. He heard the story of my international visitors doing a Google image search and being led to a certain post. What can I say, the boy wants to get me some more readers.


Kelly said...

Wow ... I had no idea what it was all about really. I mean, I had a vague idea but I had no clue there was so much to it. Thanks, you never know when this kind of info will come up ... like the million dollar question on a quiz show!!
:) Hey, a girl can dream!

Hairball said...

"I don't think you will see anyone at the Episcopal Church tonight flashing their boobs so their fellow parishioners will throw pancakes at them. But you never know, especially in New Jersey, that hotbed of Episcopal shenanigans."

The imagery is priceless! Thanks for making me laugh.

Kathy said...

Kelly - that's what happens when you were married to someone who spent 4 years in the seminary. I always felt like I went to his classes with him, I learned so much. Of course, I did cheat a little on Wiki.

Marilyn - why thankee shugah, I aims to please.

Russ said...

I have to agree with Hairball, that church imagery was priceless.