Mardi Gras or Carnival began as a the time before Lent, an austere time of fasting and penitence to prepare for Easter. Although it has degenerated into a time of excesses practiced by those who have no intention of participating in the Lenten fast, the idea of a time of celebration before fasting is a good one.
Come, therefore, let us enjoy the good things that exist, and make use of the creation to the full as in youth.
Let us take our fill of costly wine and perfumes, and let now flower of spring pass us by.
Let us crown ourselves with rosebuds before t they wither.
Let none of us fail to share in our revelry;
because this is our portion, and this is our lot.
After the carnival feasting, after the last games and the dances, we sing our final Alleluia and we sing it in rounds. Then we bury it in a deep chest. The Alleluia that we bury is fist lettered on a long scroll and decorated with Spring flowers by all the participants. We will not hear or use this expression of greatest joy until it is sung again during Easter night. Then we settle down. We remove some of our silliness and gather for community night prayer. Drawing the revelry to a close, we face into tomorrow's Ash Wednesday. We offer one another a sing of peace and best wishes for a holy and fruitful Lent. With that, we begin a great silence. Everything is cleaned up, and everybody moves about collecting belongings, but nobody says a world.
Tonight I have danced with the bagman. Tonight I have danced with a general. I have danced with clowns and cowboys. I have danced with the president and an elephant. I have danced with a cheerleader, with Apollo, with Dionysus. Tonight I have danced with God.
Gertrude Mueller Nelson
At that Time: Cycles and Seasons in the life of a Christian"