instead I'd like to show you a related tradition for that very same day. "Fat Tuesday" (which is what Mardi Gras literally means) is basically one last blowout before the fasting and penance of Lent, which starts tomorrow with Ash Wednesday. In New Orleans and elsewhere, this takes the form of a Carnival, with parades and costumes and parties and lots of cheap beads. But in the more buttoned-down culture of England, and in Episcopal and several other Christian sects, the celebration is a bit tamer. In England, and at St. Michael's, today was Shrove Tuesday, otherwise known as Pancake Day.
Father Smith serves the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper at St. Michael & All Angels.
So after work today, I picked up my friend Kevin and headed over to St. Michael's, where pancake-flipping was already in progress. Father Smith had specifically invited John as well, but John, as always, declined. We had a good turnout, though. The church treasurer and several past and present Vestry members did most of the cooking, making dozens of pancakes and several kinds of sausage. Father Smith served up the pancakes - limit two per person to start, please!
Coffee or juice?
There were several kinds of syrup brought in by parishioners. Beverage choices ranged from coffee to diet cranberry-blueberry drink to apple or orange juice.
Al DeAugustine finally gets to taste what he made.
But yes, there were Mardi Gras beads as well!
The idea behind Shrove Tuesday is to use up certain foods before fasting begins, and to fortify yourself for Lent. That's why it's called Fat Tuesday; it's the time to indulge in all that food before the self-denial begins. Like New Year's Resolutions, Lent is a time when people tend to go on a diet, or try to give up smoking or drinking. "I'm giving up ice cream for Lent" is a sentence one hears a lot this time of year in certain quarters. But really, the idea is meant to be about penance and sacrifice as a way of growing closer to God, not about doing something for your waistline. (Father Smith likes to encourage people to do something positive for Lent, rather than giving something up.) Still, there's no reason you can't do both!