Skip to comments.Pre-Lenten Days -- Family activities-Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras)[Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Posted on 02/17/2007 2:35:52 PM PST by Salvation
[Illustration, Book of Gospels - Midwest Theological Forum]
Part I - Pre-Lenten Days
Suggestions for family activities on Shrove Tuesday (Mardi Gras)
The penitential season of Lent is the period of forty week-days beginning on Ash Wednesday. It is a season of the Church year that commemorates the forty days Jesus fasted and prayed in the wilderness before He began His public ministry of preaching for repentance. Six Sundays are within the season; the last, Passion Sunday, marks the beginning of Holy Week. Holy Thursday begins the Triduum (three days) before Easter day, which includes Good Friday and Holy Saturday.
The Church has devoted a period of time to prayer and fasting as a preparation for the liturgical comemmoration of the Passion of Christ and the celebrations of the feast of the Resurrection, Easter Day, since very early times. In 604 Pope Gregory I defined Lent as "The spiritual tithing of the year", a time of solemn spiritual and physical preparation for our own acceptance of salvation through Christ's sacrifice. (Ordinary tithing meant to give a tenth part a tithe of one's goods to God. Lent's forty days represents about a tenth of the year.)
The word "Lent" comes from the Anglo-Saxon word "lencten", referring to the lengthening of days in the Spring. Lent, of course, is an English word. In Latin, still the official language of the the Catholic Church, the entire season is known as Quadrigesima, or "forty".
The season of Lent calls Christians to imitate the forty days of prayer and fasting of Jesus. The period of forty days is significant. When God punished the sinfulness of mankind by the Flood, the rain lasted forty days and forty nights. Moses led the Hebrew people out of bondage in Egypt, but they wandered forty years in the desert before reaching the promised land. Elijah fasted and sought God's will on Mount Horeb for forty days. Jonah prophesied the destruction of Nineveh in forty days.
In the Eastern Churches the penitential season before Easter begins before the forty days, and eventually the Roman Church also anticipated the season for several weeks before the actual beginning of Lent.
Prior to the Second Vatican Council, the pre-Lenten penitential season began on the Sunday three weeks before the beginning of Lent, called Septuagesima. The word Septuagesima (seventieth) was supposed to be a reminder of the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity of the Jewish people, and thus of our captivity in sin, although this Sunday was actually only sixty-three days before Easter. The succeeding pre-Lenten Sundays were called Sexagesima and Quinquagesima. Just as in Lent, violet vestments were worn and the Alleluia was omitted from Mass.
The liturgical changes initiated by the Council removed this anticipated pre-Lenten penitential season, however, and the Church returned to the earlier practice of beginning Lent on Ash Wednesday. The Sundays between Epiphany and the beginning of Lent are now in the liturgical season called Ordinary Time.
The date of Easter is the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal (spring) equinox. So, unlike Christmas, which is celebrated on the same day each year, Easter and feasts and celebrations of the Church year related to Easter are called "movable feasts". The movable feasts include the Ascension (forty days after Easter), Pentecost (fifty days after Easter), and Trinity Sunday, the first Sunday after Pentecost. (Christ the King, the last Sunday of the liturgical year, or the Sunday before Advent, is also a movable feast, although its date is not determined by the date of Easter, but by the first Sunday of Advent, which is the Sunday nearest the Feast of St. Andrew, November 30.)
Carnival Shrove Tuesday - Mardi Gras
Carnival is from the Latin Carnevale or "farewell to meat", and it is a time of joyful feasting and fun. The practice of celebrating carnival probably began in ancient times when the Sunday a week before the beginning of Lent was called Dominica Carnevala, or "farewell to meat Sunday" -- referring to the Lenten fast from meat and animal products. (For more information on the Catholic practice of fasting see Ash Wednesday page, and Fast and Abstinence page.)
The official day of "farewell" is Mardi Gras, French for "Fat Tuesday". The day was also called "Butter Tuesday", because the last of the animal products had to be used up sometimes in fried pancakes. It is also known as Shrove Tuesday, which may refer to the diet being deprived or "shriven" of meat; or possibly that after the customary confession in preparation for Lent, one is "shriven" of sin. The famous celebration of Mardi Gras in New Orleans has become largely a secular festival, its religious meaning having been virtually obliterated in the revelries. And the word "carnival" has long since lost its religious significance.
Carnival celebrations are not confined only to Mardi Gras, however. In some parts of the world, the carnival season extends several weeks prior to Ash Wednesday. Even today, the carnival celebrations, especially in the Caribbean, South American and some European countries, begin on January 6 (Epiphany) and end on midnight before Ash Wednesday.
Celebrating Carnival with family, friends and parish community helps children and adults to understand and appreciate "that wonderful, eternal rhythm of high and low tide that makes up the year of the Church: times of waiting alternate with times of fulfillment, the lean weeks of Lent with the feasts of Easter and Pentecost, times of mourning with seasons of rejoicing", as Maria von Trapp said, in Around the Year with the Trapp Family (p. 85). The Carnival season has been a time of "blowing off steam", of entertaining guests in the spirit of Christian hospitality and generosity, and of partaking of rich food and drinks and sometimes of excess, as the Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans vividly displays.
One of the reasons for the development of the Carnival season and the emphasis on revelry and merry-making was the very rigorous practice of Lenten fasting during the Middle Ages and beyond. During Carnival, housewives of the past rid their pantries of all butter, lard, eggs, bacon, cream and cheese in preparation for the Lenten fast. From the Middle Ages until the late Renaissance, eating all animal products except fish (which were considered bloodless) was forbidden.
Now, however, the Lenten fast and abstinence from meat in most parts of the world is confined to Ash Wednesday and all Fridays during Lent, and in modern times abstinence from meat does not include other animal products (eggs, milk and cheese, for example).
The custom of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday is still maintained in many places. (Pancakes require many eggs and much milk and butter in their preparation.) To this day there is an annual pancake race on Shrove Tuesday between the village of Olney, England and the small town of Liberal, Kansas. The outcome of this international contest, which originated in the story of a "war-bride" who was a native of Olney where the traditional pancake race originated several hundred years ago, usually appears in the national news on Tuesday before the beginning of Lent.
Mardi Gras Menu Suggestions
New Orleans French: Crepes or beignets, with quiche or egg/cheese main-dish casserole
Cafe au lait or hot chocolate, fruit juices or wine punch
Anglo-American: Pancakes or doughnuts with sausages, bacon or ham slices, scrambled eggs; fruit sauces, other fillings, syrups, etc.; honey-butter, whipped cream, cream cheese.
Some excellent suggestions for family activities.
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It would be great if people could share some Lenten meals. My father and I, when I was younger, would get our Friday meals at our church; they had the best bean soup recipe. The cooks wouldn't give out the recipe though.
Wish I had it.
dibs on the paczskis!
When I was very young, we spent winter and Spring in Peru. For Carnival there was what must have been a "baptized" pagan water festival. For three days I, at the age of 4, kept watch in our front yard with a bucket of water balloons. I was allowed, indeed expected, to throw them at any grownup who came by. All the grownups wore rain coats and carried umbrellas. Is that cool or what? I still smile at the memory. We had a walled garden and I remember lobbing water balloons over the wall into our neighbor's garden.
My growing up family wasn't all that devout. So Lent wasn't such a big deal. It's a pity, because that means Easter isn't such a big deal either.
I'm having surgery on both feet the second week of Lent, so that's going to be rather a major element this year. With any luck I'll have recovered enough to be able to spend Holy Week on the Gulf Coast with some rescue/follow-up/type thing.
Isn't that true! I was pretty darn good about advent prayers this last year. Of course it helped that my three year old loved them. I think children are innately drawn to ritual.
YES! We are hard wired for "religion". Kids know something important is going on, it's indisputable to any observer.
In one of the parishes where I served parents would report to me that their young children would imitate my gestures as I celebrated. And my kid invented a little icon procession one year, and she made a very big deal of putting the baby Jesus in the creche -- A natural (if somewhat excessive) liturgist.
And in a culture where formal gestures and ceremonies are not often used, it is no wonder that young people clamber up to groves and high places looking for some expression of the Holy.
(It's all in Plato. Whatever DO they teach them in schools these days? heh heh heh)
**I'm having surgery on both feet the second week of Lent, so that's going to be rather a major element this year. With any luck I'll have recovered enough to be able to spend Holy Week on the Gulf Coast with some rescue/follow-up/type thing.**
You will be in my prayers. What kind of surgery?
Basically they will break and then whittle on my tarsals(is that right) and screw them back together so that my bunions don't hurt too much, and don't stick out do much. Evidently it has a good track record. The afternoon of the day that I signed up for this year's MS walk I went out for a jog and had to quit in a mile. I could hardly walk.
So time for the long knives. They say I should be back and ready to train again by early May, but they're kind of discouraging running, darn it. But I'm kind of excited to have some pain to offer up. There are a LOT of people who are REALLY suffering. So I need prayers to help me make an acceptable offering.
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Speak the truth in love. Eph 4:15
Will you be eating pancakes on shrove tuesday?
I wish you all a blessed season of Lent!
Lovely inspiration artwork at top of article. Most beautiful depiction of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Yes, Yummy pancakes!
Ouch. Prayers for speedy recovery and healing.
Thank you. I am actually pumped for this. I'm afraid of hospital caused staph infections, but other than that, I'm ready. I have friends to keep the wood stove burning (we heat with wood) and to drive me to RCIA the first couple of weeks when I'm not allowed to drive. I have some spiritual reading backed up and some tactical training manuals I want to read.
And there are PLENTY of people who need praying for. And I'm going to to see one of the coolest priests I know to get anointed and to get some advice on how to stay focussed on the offering.
And, of course, there's the outcome. That's kind of cool too.
So, while It's not chasing bad guys or engaging in a Search and Rescue, I think it'll be good, IF people hold me up in prayer. So thanks.
BTTT for Schrove Tuesday, February 20, 2007!
The few days before Ash Wednesday, particularly the day before Shrove Tuesday. It is associated with confessing one's sins and has in many places become a time for holding carnivals, as the last time for festivity before the Lenten season of penance.
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