A friend of mine told me yesterday she was “eating up all the fat in the house before Wednesday,” the Wednesday in question being the one that marks the beginning of Lent. Today is Mardi Gras or in English
Fat Tuesday, the day on which cooks once used up the fat in richer, fattier foods before embarking on the fasting season. Some families traditionally eat pancakes today, others donuts. I opted for a donut run this morning, king cakes—that purple and green iced New Orleans specialty—being thin on the ground in the Philadelphia area. I did spy a king cake at the Reading Market last week at the Cajun Cafe, but I decided not to try to hunt one down today. Donuts it is. With Ash Wednesday coming early and the coincidence of Valentine’s Day and Fat Tuesday in one week, I opted for the heart-shaped ones.
The other name for today is Shrove Tuesday. The word shrove is past tense of the word shrive, which means the practice of presenting oneself to a priest to confess one’s sins, the Catholic sacrament of Reconciliation. The idea is that people confessed their sins and entered the season of lent shriven. It is no surprise that that particular name has fallen into disfavor. Most folks prefer Mardi Gras, particularly because the phrase has come to mean an entire season of decadence extending from Twelfth Night or traditional Epiphany on January 6 to Ash Wednesday.
So whether you parade and party into the night, head for church, or, like me, just eat donuts, I wish you blessings on this Fat Tuesday.