Fat Tuesday is the only Tuesday I like!

Fat Tuesday is the only Tuesday I like!

Andrea Fieldhouse Griner

Did you know Christmas, Epiphany and Mardi Gras are all connected by the number six? January 6th to be precise. January 6th is the twelfth day of Christmas, Epiphany, and the start of the SEASON of Mardi Gras. The actual day of Mardi Gras moves as Ash Wednesday moves – they are “partners.”

I love when things have a rhythm and so I love the four seasons of Minnesota. Many people are not aware that the church has seasons. The seasons of the church begin with Advent, move to Christmas, slam into Epiphany, and jarringly enter Lent. Lent is not generally regarded as the season of fun as its purpose is to lead us to Holy Week, and the cross. This season is more thoughtful, quiet and introspective  – often people choose to refrain from something they enjoy or take on a discipline of sorts. All meant to focus them on God and faith. Lent is finally redeemed as the season moves to Easter and the Resurrection!

Often forgotten in this whole journey from season to season is Mardi Gras – remember, I said Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday are partners. Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, and Ash Wednesday begin Lent.

During the Middle Ages, Lent became EXTREMELY strict. It was a time of penance, discipline, and self-sacrifice. People ate no meat, sweets, butters, fats, or syrups. They also abstained from festivals, parties, and fun! Mardi Gras was the “last hurrah” before Ash Wednesday and Lent, and is filled with partying, playing and decadence. The mask tradition started because people wanted to hide their identity. The name “Mardi Gras” comes from the tradition of slaughtering and eating the fatted calf. The custom of making pancakes comes from the need to use up fat, eggs, and dairy before the fasting and abstinence of Lent begins. Mardi Gras has grown and evolved from a day to a season. This season is filled with revelry, parades, music, celebration and fun for all. But no matter what is happening on Mardi Gras, on Bourbon Street, it ends at midnight. Mounted police clear the way for large street cleaners because Lent has begun.

I suspect you might be a little surprised to find out the Mardi Gras of New Orleans has Christianity “holding” it! So, in the name of rhythm and seasons, it’s time for Mount Calvary to think about getting our Mardi Gras on! We are going to do purple, green and yellow, beads, masks and all you can eat waffles! I bet we can also arrange for jazz music to set the tone! Let’s get ready for Lent by embracing a celebration we helped start. It happens on Tuesday, March 1! Write it on your calendar in large purple letters, and remember you have to eat dinner anyway so why not do it here?!