My reflection today:
“The last day before Lent is a weird mix of happiness and sadness. We say goodbye to the joys of winter. We look forward to the coming of Easter. Perhaps the people who keep this day the most wildly are the ones who intend to keep Lent the most seriously.
For over a thousand years, most Christians kept Lent by not eating animal products. It’s unusual that a custom would be kept by Christians in both the East and West, but that’s how important this tradition was. It probably begin out of necessity. The coming warm weather would spoil foods in storage. Also, late winter and early spring are the animals’ birthing season. By not eating animal products at this time of year, people helped a new generation get off to a healthy start.
At Carnival all meat, butter, cheese and eggs got used up in a final feast before the lenten fast. Making pancakes and donuts uses up a lot of these ingredients. Russians called the days before Lent ‘butter week’. In some countries, the last day before Lent is called donut day or pancake day. The Irish call it ‘Ash Eve.’ The French call it Mardi Gras which means fat Tuesday.
In Venice, at midnight on Ash Wednesday Eve, a straw figure named Carnevale, whose body has been stuffed with fireworks, is burned in a fire in Saint Marks Plaza. In some places last year‘s Palm Sunday branches are burned with an effigy of an old man winter, and so Lent’s ashes get made at the same time that winter burns up.”
Happy Mardi Gras!
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