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Monday, February 20, 2012

Christians, Take Back Mardi Gras!

Mardi Gras is strongly associated with debauchery  in secular culture.  The excesses and abuses of this holiday go without saying.

However, Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove Tuesday, is a long standing Christian tradition which marks the day before the entry into the contemplative period of Lent, with its focus on fasting, repentance, and spiritual growth.  There was a time when Christians engaged in a period of serious prolonged fasting during the Lenten season; Mardi Gras came to be a time for sumptuous feasting before entering into the fast.  (My hat is off to the Orthodox who have stood their Christian ground and still keep the fast.)

Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday  is an important day which Christians may use to engage in self examination and confession, as well as a bit of celebration and exuberance, before settling into the quiet contemplation of the Lenten period.  There is something to be said for shaking things up before you straighten them out.  Contrasts can help emphasize the church year and in life.

We have a couple of choices as Christians.  We may let secular culture consume our traditions, and allow them to be corrupted, without a fight....or, we may embrace them as ways to enrich our Christian walk.

If your family chooses the latter, here are a few resources:

Here is a nice, brief article about the holiday from the Huffington Post.

A mardi gras mask tutorial from Cherished Hearts at Home can be found here.  While you are visiting her, scroll down on this page and take a look at her awesome Mardi Gras cupcakes.

As usual, Catholic Icing has some great ideas here.

For the Anglicans among us, we cannot forget that the traditional food for Shrove Tuesday is pancakes.  Here is a fun slide show of some toppings for the Fat Tuesday delicacy.

Eat, drink, and be merry friends,  Our Lord lives!
...And on Wednesday...things get serious, as we begin a period of examining and improving our lives, to make ourselves better disciples of his.



  1. I have whipped cream in my fridge tonight, waiting to be put on pancakes tomorrow!

  2. Having lived in the heart of Cajun Louisiana, the secular aspects of Mardi Gras are usually directly coupled with the religious. The entire community comes together to celebrate. The parades and the food go hand and hand with going to confession and developing a Lenten plan. It was the only area I've ever lived in which the secular world bowed to the religious. Even McDonald's had a lenten menu (not just the fillet of fish, but an actual lenten menu.) Lent was an event in Louisiana and I believe it's because of the strong connection to Mardi Gras. So, while there is some debauchery and purely secular aspects to it, that's true of most Christan holidays (chocolate bunnies for Easter, for instance). I think that it actually highlights this time of the church calendar. There is nothing wrong with celebrating the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday either as Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday.

  3. I agree! My whole point was that Christians do well to embrace Mardi Gras (or Shrove Tuesday as it is called by many from Anglican backgrounds)rather than dismissing it as a purely secular holiday.


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