Daily Archives: February 21, 2012

February 21: Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras (also known as Fat Tuesday, Carnival, or Shrove Tuesday (yes, those are all the same!)) is always held the day before Ash Wednesday. The exact date changes, depending on when Easter is, but in 2012, it’s on February 21.

Many cities have huge traditions surrounding Mardi Gras (and I don’t just mean New Orleans), but they all rose from a very simple religious festival. The next day is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which focuses on self-denial, prayer, and fasting as we approach Good Friday, the day of the Crucifixion, and Easter, the day of Resurrection.

As a result, traditional holds that everyone should use up all of their eggs, butter, and milk in huge king cakes, pancakes, paczkis, crullers, semla, and many other traditional recipes. These sweet dishes are then eaten at huge parties, parades, masquerades, or balls. The original purpose was for all these ingredients to be cleaned from  the house to prevent temptation during the serious season of Lent.

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.

Philippians 4:4 & 5

I suspected most of us are familiar with the king cake (after growing up in the South, I certainly am), but now I’ve learned about the traditional Polish dish, common in several northern states: paczki (pronounced punch-key). These “donuts” are rather overwhelming – filled with sugar, butter, and eggs, before they are fried and dusted in sugar – but, as everyone says, it’s only once a year. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can find a recipe here.

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February 21: International Mother Language Day

International Mother Language Day is celebrated every February 21 to encourage people to use their mother language and teach it to their children, and to commemorate those who died on this day in 1952 while demonstrating for Bengali, their mother language. I will be celebrating today by speaking only in my mother language – American English! You can celebrate with your mother language today as well, whether it’s English, Spanish, Chinese, Bantu, Japanese, Yiddish, French, Italian . . . okay, I think you get the idea.

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”

Revelation 7:9 & 10