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Happy Carnival Day! Happy “Fat Tuesday”! Happy Shrove Tuesday! Happy Pancake Day! Happy Mardi Gras!

Today brings an end to a bunch of celebrations, feasts, and parades known commonly as “Mardi Gras”. Why do WE celebrate? Well, in the spirit of #CelebrateAlways we choose to celebrate EVERY DAY and be thankful to God for our many blessings. But the history is, Mardi Gras (especially the New Orleans way of celebrating it) is the EXACT time of the year connecting “The Twelve Days of CHRISTMAS” to Lent, the Easter Season. How cool is that? (Wikipedia Helps me explain some of the details)

Epiphany, on January 6, has been recognized as the start of the New Orleans Carnival season since at least 1900; locally, it is sometimes known as Twelfth Night although this term properly refers to Epiphany Eve, January 5, the evening of the twelfth day of Christmastide.

Shrove Tuesday (also known in Ireland as Pancake Tuesday or Pancake Day) is the day in February (or March) immediately preceding Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent), which is celebrated in some Christian countries by consuming pancakes. In others, especially those where it is called Mardi Gras or some translation thereof, this is a carnival day, and also the last day of “fat eating” or “gorging” before the fasting period of Lent.

But what is Lent? What does it even mean?

Now I get to fly all over the world, and there are many ways that people celebrate Mardi Gras, and Lent.  The English word Lent is a shortened form of the Old English word lencten, meaning “spring season”. In Dutch the word lente (Old Dutch lentin) is still used to mean that today. There is, also, an old word in German, Lenz (Old High German lenzo).

What does the word Mardi Gras mean, S’more? Why is it such a funny sounding name….

Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, but it refers to all the events of the Carnival celebration, beginning on or after Epiphany (Three Kings Day) and ending on the day before Ash Wednesday, which is known as Shrove Tuesday.

Why do we call it “Fat Tuesday”? Well, because it’s the last night of eating rich, fatty foods before the fasting of Lent season. Fasting is when we give something up like food for God. In countries such as the United Kingdom, Mardi Gras is also known as Shrove Tuesday, which is derived from the word shrive, meaning “to administer the sacrament of confession to; to absolve”. In other words, to tell God we are sorry for the things we have done wrong.

Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent and occurs 46 days before Easter. It is a moveable fast. It falls on a different date each year because it is dependent on the date of Easter, which can also be a different day each year. One year, Ash Wednesday was the day before Valentine’s Day. So, no one wanted to give up chocolate for Lent!

Ash Wednesday gets its name because we put ashes on our foreheads as a sign we are sad for doing things that make God sad.

Lent can be a confusing season for many. It begins on Ash Wednesday and ends approximately six weeks (40 days but really 46 days, the Sundays don’t count) later on Holy Thursday, the memorial of the Lord’s supper the Thursday of Holy Week before Easter Sunday. Palm Sunday marks the beginning of Holy Week. (More on Palm Sunday in the another blog.)

But perhaps the most confusing part of Lent is that a lot of people choose to give up something during this season – especially food.

Giving up something for Lent is a CHOICE, and not a rule. Only choose to do so if you feel like it will strengthen your spiritual journey! The point of Lent is to take away things that keep you from God, not to punish ourselves. So, it shouldn’t make us sad to give things up.

Consider what THINGS you could give away or what we could ADD to our lives that would make the world a better place. That is the point of Lent. These 40 days, are a journey toward the most important event in the history of the world: the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is a gift with the power to transform us and our relationships with God and with our friends (and new friends yet to come) near and far.

See you at The Shoppe!

~S’more The Elf On The Shelf

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