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Today is Fat Tuesday. What is Fat Tuesday you may ask? Well, I blogged about this very question a while back for Prima – Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day, and the Bunn Ultra-2. I have quoted a bit from that post here, with some added thoughts on Ash Wednesday.
Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday in French) is synonymous with excess and immorality. You might wonder “How on earth does a ginormous party in which everyone eats cajun food, imbibes enough alcohol to kill a horse, dances around (half-)naked, and engages in other such debaucheries have any relation to a religious festival?” I’m glad you asked. In order to understand the origins of Mardi Gras, you must first have a general understanding of Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Lent is the 46 days (40 days not including Sundays) that precede Easter. Christians have historically used Lent as a time to abstain from meat or other pleasures as a means of looking forward to Good Friday and Easter (the most significant days of the Christian calendar). Somewhere along the line in the history of Christendom, someone thought: “Well, since we are going to give up our favorite foods for the next 46 days, let’s enjoy them today.” Thus, was born Fat Tuesday. It initially started as a feast, but it soon devolved into the utter chaos that is Mardi Gras.
What we now know as Mardi Gras developed from a fundamental misunderstanding of the Gospel. It turned a momentous day in the church calendar (Ash Wednesday) into a get out of jail free card day. The idea is that you can get 40 days worth of gluttony and sinning done in one day, and get your pardon the next day at church by having ash spread on your forehead. This is diametrically opposed to what the Bible teaches about grace and the Christian life.
That is not to say Ash Wednesday is bad. Ash Wednesday, when properly understood, is a wonderful day in the church calendar. It is a time for reflection on our own mortality. It is a time to honestly reassess our lives and repent of sin. Lent is great when done in a spirit of repentance and worship. When it is seen as a “have-to” event, it loses its meaning (or when people use it as an excuse to diet). Here are some helpful blogs my church put out concerning their practice of Ash Wednesday.
Ash Wednesday Blogs:
Until later friends…