Saturday, February 11, 2012

Why Isn't Mardi Gras on the Same Date Every Year?

The date of Mardi Gras moves every year for the same reason that Easter moves every year. Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday. Why Tuesday? Because it leads into Ash Wednesday.

You see, every year the church sets the date for Easter according to this ancient formula. Easter occurs on the first Sunday after the first full moon following the Spring Equinox. Hmmm......Are you wondering how they came up with that formula?

Once again, when the church was busy trying to invest ancient pagan celebrations with a new meaning so that they could once again try and convince more people to convert by pretending that what they had been doing for millennia was really not what they thought, you begin to realize the sophisticated psychology of the cultural shift.

Spring Equinox was traditionally a time for people to celebrate the return of the greenery, the melted snow swelling the streams, the softening of the soil, the planting of crops, the return of abundance and fertility after the sterile, freezing temperatures of winter. It was also a cause for celebration and a randy spirit inspiring people who may have begun to get cabin fever. Hence, the symbols of eggs and rabbits. What are rabbits known for? Ah, yes, bounding around humping. And eggs, birth and rebirth. Even the name Easter has nothing to do with traditions of a someone born in Bethlehem. Easter comes from the name of an ancient Germanic fertility goddess, Estara, also spelled Ostara.

In church tradition, Lent is a period of six weeks from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday when people fast, pray repent for their sins, and so since churchgoers were in for 40 days of such grim proceedings, they had a big blowout prior to the grim period. Hence the costumes, revelry, parties, parades and bop till you drop attitude that precedes Lent. Guess if you believe in sins, then you might as well enjoy some big time sins before you start feeling guilty and beating yourself up and apologizing for it.

Sort of in the same spirit expressed in the song "Stormy Monday." Party all night Saturday then Sunday go to church and ask forgivenness for having fun Saturday night. Yep, I'll never do that again. At least not until tonight. Or next weekend. Yes, we realists recognize true nature.

So anyway, the fact that Easter does not have the same date every year, neither does Fat Tuesday. Hey, the date changes, but the party goes on!

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