No work Fat Tuesday!

Would you like me to elaborate?  Well, I’m going to anyway.

In French, Mardi Gras or “Fat Tuesday” has its roots in the ancient Greek spring festival in honor of Dionysus, the god of wine.  It was originally called Carnival, or in the original Latin, Carne Vale or “Farewell to the Flesh”.

The Romans adopted the celebration with feasts in honor of Bacchus, their equivalent to Dionysus, and Saturnalia, where slaves and their masters exchanged clothes in a day of drunken revelry.

Saturnalia was later modified by the Roman Catholic Church into a festival leading up to Ash Wednesday, the day right after Fat Tuesday.  So, why do they call it fat?  Because the celebrations quickly grew into over indulging in every vice and pleasure, sort of a “final blowout” if you will, before the first day of Lent, the 40-day period of the purging of sins, reflections and abstinence from every vice and pleasure leading up to Easter.

“Carnival” came to the Gulf Coast via a French explorer and settler, and of course took root and grew to what it is today–Mardi Gras, complete with a week of parades and balls leading up to the main day, at which time the mayor of New Orleans turns the keys to the city over to the King of Carnival, King Rex, for the day and lawlessness reigns.

Away from the big city and closer to  home, there are more rural celebrations, which are more family oriented and vary from town to town.  To see what my nearby town does, visit the local paper for photos or read about an old Cajun tradition down in Mamou.

The Mardi Gras parades are attended by folks of all races, religions and creeds, but the only folks you’ll see walking around with ashes on their foreheads Wednesday and giving up meat (or alcohol, or chocolate, or sex) for the next 40 days will be members of the Catholic faith.

Everything shuts down on this day.  Nobody works.  So I’m not physically working either, simply because it’s a day for me to catch up on bill paying and trying to clear my desk.  School is out until Thursday and some are out all week.  My boys are still at Disney and having a BLAST!

Concrete Cleanup
Yesterday, which was Lundi Gras, Larry became my new hero!  He broke up that pile of leftover concrete from the first pouring . . .

Dump in bulkhead
and dumped it across the road in the neighbor’s bulkhead.

Concrete goneAnd I am so happy because the front yard is one step closer to getting back to normal.  And to make things even better,  while I was shoveling dirt back around the sewage treatment plant, he told me to put that shovel down and that when all the concrete work was done, he would “dress all that up” for me.

So, for today, I’ll give them their day off to make merry, and I look forward to seeing them back on the job first thing in the morning.

Until next time,


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  1. If they “Made Merry” today, don’t expect to see them on the job too early! It’s looking good. Hope to see you and Camp Dularge on Thurs. I’ll make sure my cell phone is charged up this time. BW, just to set you straight …(Not ALL Protestants) but, this Methodist will have ashes on her forehead tommorrow night. Our church has a 6p.m. Ash Wed. service where we will receive the burnt ashes from the previous Palm Sunday. My personal commitment during the Lenten season is to “give up something” and to have no meat on Fridays. I figure it’s the least I can do. After all… Jesus gave his life for us.

  2. Well, Steffi, thanks for setting me straight on this very protestant version of Ash Wednesday! I had no idea that main line Protestants did this! Thanks for sharing that with us. What is the significance of “ashes” from the previous Palm Sunday?

  3. I’m ticked! I had to work today. I work for the tribes/government and we get every holiday off but apparently this one! I’m going to write someone but I just don’t know who, lol. Darn, I wish I read this earlier I would have gone home! Now making a stand 9 minutes before quitting time just doesn’t seem to have the same flair…..

  4. Using palm ashes from a previous Palm Sunday, is a reminder that we shouldn’t only rejoice in Jesus’ coming but also to regret that our sins made it necessary for him to die for us. The ashes are a sign of mourning and penance. I’m certainly no expert on the Bible or “Church” rituals, and I’m not expressing myself well. I hope this answers your question and doesn’t stop others from commenting about “Fat Tuesday”. I didn’t mean to turn your post into a religious discussion. Happy Mardi Gras!

  5. Steffi: Au contraire. You expressed yourself quite well. I will recieve my ashes at my Protestant church too. My commitment is not to eat meat on Friday and potatoes any day (my all time fav food) until Easter. Hope I can lose weight with this too, but that’s not my goal.

    MrsCoach: You work for tribes/government? You should have been off today. You could claim our famous Indian Tribes that parade all through New Orleans. They are proud of, and take seriously, their African-Native Indian heritage. We have many tribes that spend a year and much money making the elaborate head-dresses and costumes. The needle work is handed down from one generatiion to the next. Did I mention these tribes a all male and have to do ALL the sewing and bead work themselves. It’s a beautiful sight.

    When I worked in a Dr’s billing office in Metairie our headquarters was in Philly, Pa. and we never could explain to them virtually every business closed on Fat Tuesday.They made us take a personal day if we wanted to be off but one person had to man the store. Whoever that person was had to spend Monday night in the office. It was smack dab in the middle of the parade route so you couldn’t get in or out past 5 a.m. Can you believe the folks up in Pa. didn’t know that Mardi Gras was a big deal down here, so much so, that businesses actually closed?

    My local parade is Push Mow held in Abita Springs. It is what it sounds like….kinda. Anything that rolls on wheels or can be pushed is welcome. Lawn mowers, bikes, skates, skis on wheels, pigs on hand carts, anything. Ever see a group of toilets being pushed down the street with people of all ages riding on them while throwing beads and candy? Or portable toilets? The most ridiculous one wins. The prize is it will then be displayed in the town museum named….. UCM Museum. If it’s too big then you only get a photo displayed. It’s a hoot. We have a king or queen chosen by the charitable work contributed in the town for the previous year.

    I’m going to go eat a bowl of mashed potates now. Happy Fat Calf!

  6. My giving up happened at New Year’s – fast food and soda, coke, pop – whatever you might call it. I don’t have much else to give up since I don’t smoke, drink, or eat much meat.

    I guess I could give up complaining. Yikes – that’ll be a test.

  7. Mrs. Coach, good luck with that because it is a regional holiday! And let me explain. If you ask Steffi if everything closed on Fat Tuesday where she lives, she will tell you no–even though it’s only about 90 miles north of where I am. There is that much cultural difference within South Louisiana. Right Steffi? At least Choupiquer said his office worked yesterday.

  8. Katy – no worries about the long comment! I love the exchange!

    I want to add that the The “Mardi Gras Indians” krewes are only in New Orleans and not in outlying cities. They chose to costume like Indians out of respect for the Native American’s who helped them escape slavery and accepted them.

    You can read more about them and see some of their costumes on this site.

  9. Ok, I didn’t explain it well. Let’s see if I can do better. The palm branches from 2008’s Palm Sunday are burnt on Ash Wed. 2009, the ashes are then mixed with water or oil (depending on the Religion) and applied to the forehead in the shape of a Cross.

    1. I guess I would have understood without explanation if I realized where the “Catholic” ashes came from. I never wondered what kind of ashes they were, but I assume they are the palms, as well? It all makes sense now. Thanks.

  10. I can do the burgers and fries. Don’t do chicken nuggets. It’s funny, but sometimes it is really hard not to do fast food when I’m out of town. Where ever did we eat before?