Thursday, March 3, 2011

Mardi Gras is upon us.

I work at a church, so around these parts, the oncoming Spring season means we're getting ready for the season of Lent. Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, the day people go to noon services during their lunch hour and return to the office with a greasy, ashy cross drawn on their forehead and attempt to spend the rest of their afternoon in meetings pretending people aren't staring at them.

But the party girl in me can't help but also be thinking that this is the time of Mardi Gras, leading up to Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent begins. The day before we begin to withhold pleasure for 40 days on the road to being a more studious, prayerful Christian, we party like rock stars for one more day. And we eat cake.

image links to the Carnival New Orleans blog, where it lives. Click it! It's fun.

Because I am all about cake, and I am all about celebrating before depravation. It's the same as partying on New Year's Even and making New Year's resolutions when you think about it, only there are more rituals and rules that going along with the whole thing. But let's get back to the cake, shall we?

Because I grew up in a Methodist household and not a Catholic one, (and a fair-weather one at that, at the time,) I didn't know anything about King cakes and Fat Tuesday and ash crosses on foreheads until I was out of college and in the workforce. I went to lunch one day and returned to find almost all my officemates had this crazy, nasty looking black soot spread above their eyebrows. But it was at that same time I first learned about King cakes, and the babies and the coins and wow, this celebrating your religion thing is kind of fun, huh? Who knew.

So now I teach my kids about Mardi Gras, and King cakes, and the meaning of Ash Wednesday, and the meaning of the season of Lent. And it dovetails nicely with our plans to visit New Orleans on a mission trip this summer, to participate in rebuilding from Katrina. Yes, there is still so much to be done.

How do you celebrate the Spring season?

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