ANSWER: Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday)
This holiday, which always falls on a Tuesday, marks the day before the 40-day period of fasting and preparation for Easter. The first day of Lent is Ash Wednesday, which usually falls in February or March. The pre-Lent season is known as Carnaval and is especially popular in Rio de Janeiro, New Orleans, Venice, and all over Europe and Latin America.
Throughout the years, unholy people have used the day before Lent as an excuse to wallow in excesses and gluttonous behavior. Often the Church takes measures to discourage the recklessness by encouraging prayers, devotions, and special Masses on this day.
What are the upcoming
dates of Mardi Gras? February
20 in 2007, February 5 in 2008, February 24 in 2009, February 16 in
2010, March 8 in 2011, February 21 in 2012, February 12 in 2013, March 4
Thomas Aquinas on fasting In Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas describes two reasons for Christian fasting: “deletion of sin” and “the raising of the mind to heavenly things.”
Origin of Lent:
a few centuries after Christ, we see many Christians fasting for 40
initially, the length and type of pre-Easter fasting varied from region
190 A.D., St. Irenaeus wrote "some think they ought to fast for one
day, others for two days, and others even for several, while others
reckon forty hours both of day and night to their fast"
In the end, a period
of 40 days was established for Lent because Jesus fasted for 40 days in
the desert. Forty is also the number of days that Moses traveled in the
desert with the Israelites, and the number of days of rain in the story
of Noah’s ark.
40-day Lenten season was established by the Council of Nicaea in 325
“….but the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken from
them, and then shall they fast." - Matthew
In the first few
centuries after Christ, some regions emphasized refraining from favorite
foods, while other regions emphasized refraining from all food intake
for periods of time.
In 339 A.D., St.
Athanasius urged a 40-day fasting period prior to Easter to the people
of Alexandria, tell the people that the rest of Christiandom was already
doing it. According to Catholic Encyclopedia, St. Irenaeus, “after
having traveled to Rome and over the greater part of Europe, wrote in
the strongest terms to urge this observance upon the people of
Alexandria as one that was universally practiced, "to the end that
while all the world is fasting, we who are in Egypt should not become a
laughing-stock as the only people who do not fast but take our pleasure
in those days".”
LENT & FASTING LINKS