Pancakes and King Cakes and Donuts, Oh My!

white masquerade
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Happy Shrove Tuesday, y’all! Whether you’re a card-carrying observer of the Lenten season or not, chances are you do celebrate Fat Tuesday, AKA Mardi Gras, AKA Carnival, which is actually a season that starts on Epiphany and runs through, you guessed it, Fat Tuesday. But how much do you actually know about the mystical day before Ash Wednesday and why it’s such a big deal?

Contrary to what many may assume, Mardi Gras was not founded in New Orleans. It’s also not just a random good time a rollin’, either. Oh, my gravy, y’all! Please don’t hyperventilate. It’s okay. It’s okay. Beads are still flying down there today and King Cakes are aplenty. But the fact remains, Mardi Gras didn’t originate in the Big Easy. In fact, the first time it is believed to have been introduced to the United States was about 60 miles away from what would become New Orleans in 1699 by a Frenchman who realized Fat Tuesday was upon him. He named the spot Point du Mardi Gras and threw a shindig.

Tradition has it that on Shrove Tuesday, Catholics everywhere, who know they’re going into forty days of fasting and abstinence, live it up large by indulging in whatever they’re giving up for the days leading up to Easter. Most often, it’s sweets, fatty foods, alcohol, and, for some poor fools, sex. It’s celebrated as many different ways as there are Catholic parishes it would seem. Some parishes host pancake breakfasts. In other places, donuts are a staple of the day. And in New Orleans, King Cake is, well, king. The idea was ages ago to empty one’s larder in preparation for a life of penance, and it’s grown over the years to encompass huge celebrations and parties and parades.

As for me and mine, we’ll be having the pancakes tonight. We love breakfast for supper and it seems a fitting way to observe Fat Tuesday. If you’re out partying, please be safe. And don’t forget to go get your ashes tomorrow!

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