11 February 2005
Steve's brother, Scott, says he's giving up internet discussion boards for Lent. Maybe this is the latter day version of giving up sweets!
I missed Shrove Tuesday this year, since I was in Palo Alto with Steve when it arrived. Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, is traditionally the day you have pancakes. On this day (historians say) there were feasts of pancakes to use up the supplies of fat, butter and eggs... foods that were forbidden during Lent.
Those foods are no longer "forbidden," but still it was a tradition that I liked to uphold, even after religious observances sort of dissolved around here. How can you not celebrate an excuse to eat pancakes?
( Interesting bits of trivia: "Shrove Tuesday" gets its name from the ritual of "shriving," where a person confesses their sins and receives absolution for them. The day is also called "Fat Tuesday," because it's the day that you're supposed to eat up all the fats because you can't have them during lent. The French translation for "Fat Tuesday" is Mardi Gras. Aren't you glad you have me around to tell you all this stuff?)
Lent was a very big deal when I was in grammar school. We were all such pious kids. I always gave up candy for Lent and then pigged out on chocolate eggs on Easter morning. (My father gave up liquor each year, just to prove he wasn't an alcoholic and that he could actually go six weeks without a drink. He made gin fizzes for breakfast on Easter Sunday, so he didn't have to wait until "cocktail hour" to have his first drink after Lent!)
Funny about giving up candy because I don't remember eating a lot of candy. But there's something about "forbidden fruit." As soon as you've promised not to have any, it become a huge craving, which, I suppose, makes your sacrifice that much more valuable.
I also left home early and went to mass every school day in grammar school, since the church was really part of the grammar school complex. That practice actually got me in big trouble, too. I'm trying to remember the exact circumstances, but I think there were two Masses each morning one at 6 a.m. and one at 7 a.m. I attended the 7 a.m. Mass, which meant I had to leave Mass right after Communion in order to get breakfast and then get to my classroom on time. I remember being punished by a nun who told me (again) that I was a hypocrite, pretending to be attending Mass, when in fact, I never stayed for the whole thing.
Some nuns could be so cruel to little kids!
On cold winter mornings, it was always nice to have breakfast in the school cafeteria after Mass and before school started. I still remember dunking plain cake donuts and powdered sugar donuts in cups of hot hot chocolate--if you could drink chocolate, it didn't count as candy, of course. (Funny how most of my memories of special events in my life center around food!)
We were always aware of the passage of Lent and of the sacrifices we were making and "offering it up."
Lent, of course, rose to a fevered pitch on Good Friday, when either we didn't go to school at all or we were let out early--I don't remember now. But I can remember that it was always a big deal to remain silent during the "Three Hours," from noon to 3 p.m., commemorating the three hours that Jesus hung on the cross before his death.
One year a group of friends and I decided to go climb a hill in the neighborhood (the "hill" is now gone and a fancy tall condo building stands in its place). The plan was that we would each sit in a spot alone, within sight of the others, and we would all pray for the three hours.
Well, we were grammar school kids--you can pretty much guess how long our plan to remain silent and pray for 3 hours lasted! But our hearts were in the right place!
Now those days seem very far behind me, especially since my falling out with the Catholic church. Lent kind of passes by without my hardly even noticing it and Easter is just another Sunday.
But I'm really sorry to have missed Shrove Tuesday.
PHOTO OF THE DAY
Chippa and the chicks