Mardi Gras! Shrove Tuesday! Fat Tuesday!
I mean, really, how can today not be one of your favorite days of the entire year? I don’t really know what “shrove” means*, but I know what “fat” means, and I can’t say I mind having a day set aside to partake of it, especially just before the great fast.
As a child I had very little understanding of the connection between Mardi Gras and Lent–I associated New Orleans Mardi Gras with a Spring Break orgy rather than a celebration of liturgy, both of which my sheltered evangelical America childhood knew nothing of.
But I did know that on Fastnacht Day,which is what we called it, we ate fastnachts. Or, rather, we ate doughnuts and called them fastnachts, which we told ourselves was the German word for doughnut. (Turns out that it’s not, by the way. It might mean “carnival” but it also might just mean “night of the fast,” which is pretty boring, if you ask me.)
I actually thought this doughnut-consumption was a normal practice among all Americans everywhere. Little old ladies at the Methodist church took fastnacht orders for weeks in advance and stayed up all night making them in the church basement–sugared or cinnamon-sugared or plain, by the dozen. And it was such a standard outside the church as well. On Fastnacht Day, fire stations sold them as fundraisers, and every radio DJ worth a grain of salt was broadcasting live from somewhere around central Pennsylvania that was distributing fastnachts.
It wasn’t until I moved to Texas and someone said they were having pancakes for dinner–and I thought to myself, That’s silly! Why would you eat pancakes on Fastnacht Day?–that I realized my affinity for doughnuts was not a universal.
I have since learned about the wonders and beauty of King Cake, too, and all I can say is: YUM. I love this holiday.
Because I’ve lived my entire adult life away from Pennsylvania Dutch country, I never get an authentic fastnacht on Fat Tuesday, but the truth is, I never really liked them anyway. (They were always kind of greasy, and certainly never compared to a jelly-filled Dunkin’ Donut, a favorite of my childhood.) The hubster and I do, however, try to eat something extra spectacular on this day of all days. I often make cinnamon rolls, or we eat scones smothered in Nutella, or he’ll buy doughnuts for his students, many of whom are Baptist and don’t understand the point, even after he explains it. That is not to bash Baptists, by the way, considering I am one now, but it is more a statement of fact as we’ve experienced it.
This morning, we stopped and bought ourselves some frou-frou drinks at our local coffee shop. Yum.
And, bacheloretting it, I had macaroni and cheese for dinner. YUM.
So I’m counting that as a celebration.
Besides, there might be room for Nutella in the next four hours…
* I have spent only about fifteen seconds trying to determine what “shrove” means and the unreputable sources on the interwebs link it to being “shriven” or forgiven, which makes sense, but I didn’t want to claim it without further research.