When I read Jennifer Fulwiler’s challenge on doing a “7 for 7” blog venture (seven posts in seven days), I thought, yeah, that’s the last thing I need — more obligations added to my already wildly spotted week! But then I began to think a little differently about it.
And what I came to realize is that such an exercise would be, for me, something of my own personal Mardi Gras.
|My sister and me, New Orleans, Summer 2011
Mardi Gras has a bit of a bad rap because of the crazy excesses it promotes in some corners of the world, but the idea behind it is religious in nature; that being that it’s a relaxation of the usual restraints in the hours leading up to a time of fasting — in particular, the fasting season of Lent.
A quick Wikipedia search brings me on a quick tour of Mardi Gras celebrations around the world.
In Belgium, the city of Binche has an annual Mari Gras festival that involves around 1,000 dancers making their way through the city while carnival songs play.
In some regions of Germany, the celebration is called Fastnacht, or “Eve of the Fast.” Some cities host parades the Monday prior to Ash Wednesday called Rosenmontag (Rose Monday).
Italy is where we get “Fat Tuesday.” Their celebration is literally named that, or Martedi Grasso. It’s the main day of celebration along with Giovedi Grasso, Fat Thursday, which takes place the Thursday prior.
In the Netherlands, the people celebrate “Carnaval,” which comes from “carne vale,” or literally, “Goodbye to the meat,” in Latin.
“As with many popular festivals, people tend to loosen some moral codes and become laid-back or loose, which is based in the ancient role-reversal origins of Carnaval, including dressing in costumes,” according to Wikipedia. This helps explain the negative connotations of all the partying.
And of course, many of us are familiar with celebrations in the United States, most characteristically the New Orleans version, which can be far from wholesome, certainly much more worldly than spiritual.
Despite the negative connotations of Mardi Gras, my aim is to retain the celebratory spirit of it, to put in a little extra and go as “whole hog” as possible in these days leading up to Ash Wednesday, the kick-off to Lent.
Next to the Advent season, I like Lent best in the liturgical year for its encouragement of fostering a more reflective, purposeful life. I’ve come to see it as a yearly and necessary purging.
And as is often the case, I will be making some cutbacks here, posting only very occasionally throughout the season of Lent. Which leads me to my original thought that the 7 for 7 can be my “indulgence” of sorts before going quiet for a while.
Makes sense, right? Okay, then bring it on! I won’t promise lengthy posts. Not that you’d want that. But I will promise something every day of this coming week.
Here’s to Lent and a richer, deeper sense of living!
Q4U: Do you have a Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday tradition? What is it?