Today is Mardi Gras. Also known as Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday and Pancake Day.
Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the commencement of Lent (40 days before Easter, not counting Sundays). Shrove is an old English word meaning to confess and do penance, which is common to do before the season of Lent. Lent was a time of prayer and fasting, and still is in varying degrees of stringency.
The day became known as a day to endulge in all the foods that would be restricted during Lent. Most notably fat, butter and eggs, which are most abundant in pancakes. So pancakes were eaten as a way of filling up on the good stuff, and using it up before Lent. Honestly, I had never heard of Pancake Day before this year. Mardi Gras isn't a huge celebration here in Canada (well, at least in the parts of Ontario that I've lived). I only vaguely remember having to "give something up" for Lent while in school (I went to a French Catholic elementary) - and then promptly forgetting about it when I got home.
Fat Tuesday is a direct translation of the French Mardi Gras (Mardi = Tuesday; Gras = fat, grease). Again, a reference to the gorging that takes place before the fast.
Do you celebrate Mardi Gras or Pancake Day? Have you given something up for Lent?
My labmate and her family are fairly religious, so she's giving up coffee - she warned me in case she was a little irritable. Personally, I'm not religious at all and don't really see the point in fasting for nothing - so I'll be eating whatever I want.
Oh darn.. I forgot about the wisdom teeth. I won't be eating whatever I want - I'll be eating soup.