Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Fat Tuesday

Growing up, neither my church nor my family really observed the season of Lent. I grew up in a very Catholic town, so I certainly asked at a very early age why my friends came to school with dirt on their foreheads on Ash Wednesday, and why we always had pizza and fish sticks for school lunch on Friday. I knew that some people gave things up for Lent, like chocolate, or dessert. When I was in college, a mentor challenged me to try giving something up for Lent. I didn’t really have any bad food habits, so I decided to give up wearing makeup. After the third day of people asking if I was sick, I ended that experiment. 
I also heard the expression “Shrove Tuesday” for the first time in college. And I already had a pretty good idea of what Mardis Gras and Carnival were. But it took a few more years before I finally made the connection of Fat Tuesday – Ash Wednesday – Lent – Easter. And now that I know all of them, I pick and choose how to observe or celebrate each one.

I’m always up for a good excuse to make a gourmet meal or dessert, or for a good excuse to indulge in some fast food that I would normally avoid, so celebrating Fat Tuesday just makes sense. I know that there are traditional indulgent foods in various cultures, such as King Cake, pancakes, donuts, and all kinds of rich pastries, but I just go for whatever food sounds like a special treat. Maybe I’ll have steak for dinner, or maybe I’ll bake some cream cheese brownies, or maybe I’ll make myself a nice thick frappe as an afternoon snack.

Some would say that I’m being a bit hypocritical to indulge myself on Fat Tuesday when I don’t plan on giving anything up for Lent. But to me, the indulgence reminds me of all the luxuries and beauties of life that are mine thanks to God. Indulging this way helps me focus on the season of Lent as it relates to Christ’s ministry here on earth. It reminds me of the solemnity of Good Friday and the joyous celebration of Easter Sunday. It brings to mind the image of Christ and His disciples partaking of a meal together on Maundy Thursday.

So laissez les bons temps rouler! Because very soon I’ll be shouting, “Christ is risen – He is risen indeed!” And that’s a reason to celebrate!

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