Carnival and Mardi Gras: Feasting before Fasting

Carnival and Mardi Gras are big parties that are held before the fasting season of Lent begins for Christians. The celebrations are often the day before, but in some places the Carnival season can last the whole week before Lent.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is when people go to mass and priests make a cross in ashes on their foreheads, while saying a verse from the Biblical book of Genesis: Remember man, for dust thou art, and to dust thou shall return.

Christians fast for Lent for 40 days, not counting Sundays. The forty days represents the forty days Moses, Elijah and Jesus are all said to have fasted.

Originally, for the fast of Lent, people were only supposed to have one meal a day. They were supposed to refrain from eating meat, eggs, milk, butter, cheese and fish.

That’s why one tradition is for people to eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent: to use up their milk and eggs. In England this day is also called Pancake Day.

The word Carnival comes from the word carne levare (which is believed to be of Latin origin), meaning to take away meat, representing the meat it’s not allowable to eat in the upcoming weeks. Although, perhaps Mardi Gras, meaning “Fat Tuesday” in French, makes more sense for this day since it’s a day of eating and partying.

However you celebrate this time, enjoy!

Lisa

This article was posted on Thursday, February 16th, 2006 at 6:17 pm and is filed under Carnival, Holidays Around the World, Lent, Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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