Today is Shrove Tuesday, also called Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras – which is French for “Fat Tuesday.”
Shrove Tuesday is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent. It’s a day of celebration as the last chance to feast before Lent begins. Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the ritual of shriving that Christians used to undergo in the past. In shriving, a person confesses their sins and receives absolution for them.
The tradition of getting together just before Lent to eat, drink and be merry dates back to the start of the French colony in Canada and something we did religiously back on the farm. Despite the festivities, today is my least favourite day of the year; I’ve felt this way for a very long time.
For weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday, my sister and I would lie awake in bed at night trying to make a list of things that Mom would consider enough of a hardship to offer up as penance… but wouldn’t make us crazy. Forty days is a long time to go without something you really love; but then again, that was the point, wasn’t it?
Most years we gave up candy - some years chips or even pop. We didn’t have a lot of that kind of thing around the house, but as soon as we decided we were not to eat or drink any of it for 40 days, the cravings started. As a young adult I decided to give up watching television. I didn’t watch a lot of TV and I could listen to my Habs on the radio so that was easy, almost like cheating - and missing the point.
For the last 25 years I’ve been abstaining from chocolate during Lent – milk, dark, Belgian, Swiss, you name it. It almost does me in! I don’t eat a lot of chocolate, but I eat a little piece every night before bed. Grandma Lapierre did and she lived to be 103. Here’s hoping.
To be very honest, bedtime is not the only time I reach for a small square of silky, dark chocolate. When the weather systems and print deadlines collide, I often reach into my desk drawer for a little morsel of heaven. A few minutes later, all is well in the world.
I’m writing this letter disguised as a column to my friends and co-workers who will have to deal with a “Cindy without chocolate,” until Easter. I would like to apologize in advance for those who might see glimpses of the less-than-patient Cindy. Rest assured, it will pass. The countdown to Easter is on!
P.S. Based on past experience, it gets a little ugly around day 14.
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Cindy Day is the chief meteorologist for SaltWire Network.