Church to host Mardi Gras party |

Church to host Mardi Gras party

St. Theresa Catholic Church invites the community to a Mardi Gras celebration from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 28 at St. Theresa Parish Hall.

The fundraiser will feature a pancake supper, games and prizes, a Mardi Gras parade and a 50/50 raffle. The cost for the pancake supper is $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 years of age and younger. Games are 25 cents to $2 for table games. Everyone is encouraged to dress is costume for the parade and a prize will be given for the most original.

Tickets for the pancake supper may be purchased at the St. Theresa Church rectory, parish center, gift store and school. For more information call (530) 544-4788.

Mardi Gras, also known as Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday, began about the year 1200 AD. The names comes from the custom of parading around a fat ox through Paris on this day. The ox was to remind people that they were not allowed to eat meat during Lent.

The Mardi Gras season officially begins on the Twelfth Night of Christmas or Jan. 6 – the day the three wise men were said to have found Jesus. Parties, parades and celebrations continue until Lent. This ancient custom is a celebration of eating, drinking and festivity in preparation for the Lenten season. Since meat, milk, lard, butter and eggs were not to be eaten during Lent, large celebrations were held throughout the towns to eat these foods before they would spoil. Mardi Gras was a time for a “farewell to meat,” in Latin “carne vale” or carnival.

Mardi Gras parades were originally called the Carnival of Sin. Everyone stopped working and paraded the seven deadly sins – pride, envy, anger, avarice, gluttony, sloth and lechery. The idea was to expose those sins and bring them to light. In practice it meant that people had a really good time eating and getting very drunk before the rigorous fasting and penance of Lent.

The liturgical or official colors of Mardi Gras are gold (Christmas season) – representing power; green (ordinary time) – representing faith; and purple (Lent) – representing justice.

The King Cake is the official Mardi Gras cake. In European countries the coming of the wise men bearing gifts to the Christ child celebrated on the Epiphany, Jan. 6, is a time of exchanging gifts.

All over the world people gather for festive Twelfth Night celebrations. During Mardi Gras a rich coffee cake decorated with Mardi Gras colors is eaten. A plastic baby “Christ Child” is hidden inside the cake. Tradition has it that the person who finds the baby hosts the next Epiphany party.

In England, pancake suppers were held by many churches on the eve of Lent as a means of using up the milk, eggs and fat that were not allowed to be eaten during the strict days of Lent. The Pancake Bell Run for women is believed to have originated in Olney around 1445. Legend has it that one woman was making pancakes when the bell calling the people to confession on Shrove Tuesday rang. This woman ran out grabbing the frying pan and cooking the pancakes as she went. Soon there developed among the towns women above 18 years of age an annual race to the church, where women in apron, scarf and hat kept flipping the griddlecakes all along the course. The race is still held in Olney, where the women run from the pump to the market square.

The tradition made its way to America in 1950, when the women of Liberal, Kan., challenged the women of Olney. The challenge was to have the race run separately in the respective countries. The racing times were to be compared by transatlantic telephone to determine the winner. The race has been held ever since and has grown to some proportion. In Liberal there are four days of festivities.

While the race is just for fun, prizes including the traditional “kiss of peace,” a prayer book and a frying pan, await the winner.

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