As a constant recovering Christian/Episcopalian (and quasi-Catholic by proximity) I do remember Fat Tuesday as a child but as a young adult I realized I got ripped off. It was never referred to as Mardi-Gras. It was just Fat Tuesday, where we would have a pancake supper in the Parrish Hall then get “ashed” the following day on Ash Wednesday. It was very solemn, the beginning of Lent, the 40 days Jesus was in the desert, the 40 days before the crucifixion, we were to “give up” something dear to us and of course put extra money in the Lent box for the church, kind of an extra buy out for the Lenten cheating you knew you would be doing. In recent years Mardi-Gras has undergone a serious secularization! I bet if you asked 10 people “what is Mardi-Gras?” they could not tell you that it is the out and out “party hardy” before you had to do the 40 day penance. One year I opted to give up pantyhose for Lent and found that, it did not seem to make any difference what I gave up and since I did not transgress the pantyhose ban, I was good! No forgiveness or Lenten money box, required. I think they (religion) missed the major component of forgiveness, it comes from within us. You cannot give up something or buy forgiveness. It is our own willingness to forgive ourselves and ask forgiveness from the ones we hurt.
I Sin…Repent…Repeat, but I do not need to pay for it, or give anything up. I forgive, am forgiven and continue to celebrate life and dance with the GrooGrux King (New Orleans slang for something happening, that is cool and amazing)!
"Why I Am" Dave Matthews Band