History is a fun subject

Hi y’all! Welcome to KC’s Corner! Today we are going to talk about some of the history behind Mardi Gras (also known as Shrove Tuesday), Ash Wednesday, and Lent.

First up, let’s get into Mardi Gras.  I’m not really going to spend a lot of time on Mardi Gras specifically, but more on what it developed from—Shrove Tuesday. But before we get into that, one interesting thing I learned while doing some research for this video is that there is a Mardi Gras season and it begins on the Epiphany. The Epiphany is celebrated on January 6th and in Western Christianity, commemorates the Magi visiting the newborn baby Jesus.

Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, more commonly celebrated as Pancake Day, Carnival, or Mardi Gras, today.  Its name comes from the old middle-English word ‘shrive’ which means absolution for sins by doing penance or confession.  Throughout history, Shrove Tuesday has been celebrated by feasting, in some countries, on pancakes. But generally speaking, it is a day to gorge before the Lenten season begins, in which ritual fasting and penance are prominent.

The Christian practice of Ash Wednesday dates back to the 11th century. Though it is not celebrated in all denominations of Christianity, it has become widespread throughout the U.S. over the past 40 or so years.  The ashes used to mark the foreheads of the religious are made from burning leftover palm branches used on the previous Palm Sunday. They represent penance and mortality and one of the favorite sayings for Ash Wednesday for the religious is “you are dust and to dust you shall return.” Besides the tradition of ‘receiving ashes’ in the form of a cross on one’s forehead, another common Ash Wednesday practice is fasting.