New Orleans, LA – A reminder for those waking in a haze of vague recollection, recalling glints of beads and booze, the 40-day observance of penitence and ritual fasting called Lent begins today. The Carnival season of Mardi Gras has ended.
Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday, unfolds annually after Epiphany and culminates as the celebratory day before Ash Wednesday. Mardi Gras is when venetian-masked and costume clad revelers flood the streets of the French Quarter, notably down Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana.
The all-day festivities lure thousands of tourists to the area to unleash their uninhibited side. The party does have the occasional inebriated scuffle and raunchy exhibition of flesh, anything to buck social convention, and therefore calls for a police presence. But the celebration is allowed to linger into the late hours of the evening.
The morning after provides the opportunity to pay penance, atoning for the prior evening’s indiscretion perhaps. The season of Lent, a traditional religious observance, begins on Ash Wednesday and typically ends the weekend surrounding Easter in March, lasting essentially 40-days. There are varying traditions, rituals, and rules associated with Lent as some prolong the period of penance while others allow for a more contemporary observance.
Lent is practiced by Christians and Catholics alike. Devout customs are adhered to by Catholics, Lutherans, Methodists, and Presbyterians as well as some Baptists and Mennonites. Certain foods and festivities are verboten during the 40-days. Some adhere to stricter guidelines of fasting and abstinence.
The intent behind the practice of Lent is to embrace a deeper understanding of sacrifice, specifically celebrating the death and Resurrection of Christ. Practioners will often give up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence, vowing to abstain from smoking, alcohol, television or technology, essentially any comfort or action a person derives pleasure from.
What will you give up for Lent?
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