|Giclee Print of Vintage magazine, c. 1920|
The caption to this picture reads, "Les Crepes Du Mardi-Gras' are as Traditional as Shrove Tuesday Pancakes in England."
Well, that was then and this is now. No longer are we content to contemplate the true meaning of "Mardi-Gras" which translates to "Fat Tuesday" as a time of feasting and, literally, eating rich and fatty foods in preparation for the fasting and penitence of the period of Lent before Easter. Mark Twain would be amazed at how soundly the "religious feature" has been knocked out of it.
If that poster were to be made today, the women would not be holding platters and gadgets for making deliciously rich crepes for their families, but would undoubtedly be holding bright red plastic cups filled with beer. They would be dressed in outrageously scanty clothes instead of dresses, and their outfits would not be accessorized with lovely printed aprons, but with stacks of brightly colored beads. Don't even ask how they obtained the beads.
Yes, Americans have managed to prune away the sacred from the secular of every holiday on the calendar, and Mardi-Gras is no exception. I'm just silly enough to think that every single person attending parades, throwing beads, flashing breasts, and drinking beer this weekend should be required to write a term paper on the true meaning of the occasion. After turning in that term paper, they would then be required to actually participate in the penitence and fasting. Oh, yeah, that should effectively end the need for at least half of the porta-potties now required for the weekend.
I'm not trying to put a halt on all the wild debauchery that takes place in the streets of our cities during the days before Ash Wednesday. I'm in favor of debauchery as much as the next person. I'd simply like for people to go into the wild abandon of their senseless behavior with some sense of purpose. Is that even possible?
On the 10 O'clock news last night, one intrepid journalist ventured out and braved the crowded streets of
Now I'm sounding a bit snarky, which is not what I intended for our Sunday discussion on the sacred. I'm not even a church-goer anymore, but I am a bit weary of the way we have allowed beer companies, toy companies, and candy companies to co-opt religious holidays. Is there any way to stop the madness? Has this happened in other countries?
Really. I'm asking you seriously. What should we do?
Today, I wish you a small sacred moment within the secular.
As I often say (okay, not really), I think Paul Simon has the right idea. As long as he advises us to "let the music wash your soul," I'm down with that.
Here is his take on Mardi-Gras. Be sure to listen to the very end, when the New Orleans jazz brass band takes over...it just might wash your soul like it did mine. Enjoy!
Take Me to the Mardi Gras
- by Paul Simon
C'mon take me to the Mardi Gras
Where the people sing and play
Where the dancing is elite
And there's music in the street
Both night and day
Hurry take me to the Mardi Gras
In the city of my dreams
You can legalize your lows
You can wear your summer clothes
In the New Orleans
And I will lay my burden down
Rest my head upon that shore
And when I wear that starry crown
I won't be wanting anymore
Take your burdens to the Mardi Gras
Let the music wash your soul
You can mingle in the street
You can jingle to the beat of Jelly Roll
Tumba, tumba, tumba, Mardi Gras
Tumba, tumba, tumba, day