And I am super busy with California Dreamin’ Conference deadlines, so I’m going to share my 2015 Mardi Gras post.
Is Mardi Gras about religion?
Since tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, it seemed like a good idea to do a post about today.
In traditional Christian churches, Ash Wednesday begins the season of Lent, the forty-day period of fast and reflection leading up to the Christian celebration of Easter. No matter the roots of Shrove Tuesday observances, there is not much religious about the celebrating, especially in places like Rio or New Orleans. The shriving (confessing of sins), if any, comes later!
What do the English do?
In all of the Regency novels I’ve read, I’ve never heard of a celebration of Carnival in England. I thought perhaps there was none. After all, in addition to his ban on Christmas in England, the radical fanatic Oliver Cromwell, banned Ash Wednesday, Lent, and Easter. All those dreadful holidays were linked to Roman Catholic Christianity.
I was thrilled to find that England has its own version of Carnival or Mardi Gras, Pancake Day. Since 1445 the town of Olney has hosted a race on this day. Aproned housewives flip pancakes as they run through the streets. (Was this suspended during Cromwell’s reign? I don’t know. Do you?) Other communities host somewhat rowdier races like this event in Spitalfields. Scarborough has rope skipping, and Derbyshire a football game.
But, besides heavy drinking, most of the world observes the day with food. One must clean the cupboards and use up all the sugar, meats, and dairy products before the great Lenten fast begins. Some countries celebrate like the English with pancakes. Others focus on puffier edibles, like malasada in Portugal and semla in Sweden. No wonder we call it Fat Tuesday!
In my house, it’s Paczki (pronounced pawnch-key). Filled with raspberry or prune, these are like jelly donuts, only better.
Imagine one of the lords or ladies who populate our versions of the Regency world running down a public street, frying pans in hand.
Hmm. As we writers like to say, anything is possible with the right motivation!
If you know of any Georgian, Regency, or Victorian fiction that touches on Mardi Gras, I would love to hear about it.
Happy Pancake Day!
All images: Wikimedia or the author