Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Happy Mardi Gras!
The celebration of Mardi Gras has spread widely in recent years, so it's easy to forget it used to be found only in very Catholic areas of the world such as Brazil, New Orleans, and the Caribbean. I usually explain Mardi Gras as a spectacular excuse for excess before Lent. Lent requires devout Catholics to give up something important (usually some sensual pleasure) for the forty days before Easter.
Mardi Gras is what is known as a "moveable feast". This means its calendar date is dependent on the date of Easter. Easter's date changes from year to year depending on calculations involving the first full moon after the vernal equinox (March 21). I've always found this to be a rather significant Pagan accommodation by the Catholic Church but only one in a long series of the Church's co-opting and absorbing of Pagan celebrations and sacred locations.
Anyway, Happy Mardi Gras!