My mother would tell me there is “nothing new under the sun” which is her way of telling me that nothing I do surprises her anymore! Oh dear. It also tells us that everything has its own history and terms we all take for granted have a much richer context than we realise. A fantastic example of this is the term Mardi Gras. When I think of Mardi Gras I think of New Orleans and Jazz music but all is not as it seems.
According to Credo, Mardi Gras comes from the French for ‘Fat Tuesday’! This comes from the custom of using up all the fat in the household before the beginning of Lent (which started on Wednesday 13February this year). It represented the last opportunity for playing up and indulging in food and drink before the solemn season of fasting. Hence the carnivals (from the Latin ‘to take away meat’) in many parts of the world, including Italy, Brazil and of course New Orleans.
It seems in my ignorance I have been practicing ‘Fat Tuesdays’ and Lent for a while – I am forever gorging myself on food and then entering a period of repentance. Unfortunately my motives are not derived from a need to seek forgiveness but to just get back into the same pants I was wearing this time last year. The sin of gluttony and vanity are upon me so perhaps I should concentrate less on the festival aspect of life and more on the denial of Lent!