March 2, 2011
Next week, hundreds of thousands of people will descend upon New Orleans to celebrate Mardi Gras. Millions more will use the holiday as an excuse to take time away from work, relax and enjoy traditional food and drink. Yet, many do not know the origin of this festival, and its relationship to faith and family.
The words “mardi gras” are French in origin. Mardi means “Tuesday”; gras literally means “large” or “fat.” The event is not only celebrated in French regions, however. In fact, the same day is also called “Carnival” as well as “Shrove Tuesday.” In all cases, however, this day is meant as a form of preparation. The holiday was originally intended to note the next season in the religious calendar: the 40 days of Lent before Easter.
Today, our Mardi Gras traditions are effectively centered around what you should not do once you enter the season of Lent—or really, what you probably shouldn’t do most of the time! We eat special foods that are high in fat and sugar, drink large amounts of alcohol and many people partake in other bad habits for a day of living the high life.
However, the origins of the Carnival festival were actually much more practical. During the long period of Lent, everyone would refrain from eating rich foods. This was done to serve as a reminder of the Biblical story of Jesus’ time in the wilderness. But to avoid wasting the stores of butter, sugar, meats alcohol and other tasty treats from going to waste, a huge party was held in which they would all be consumed.
Preparing for adoption, too, is like going into Lent. We must be ready to endure a long period of waiting before a child may come into our lives. During that time, families must make the changes necessary to support the new member of their family. They may need to save resources, adjust their diets and their schedules, and learn about the world of adoption and the places from which adoptive children originate. This waiting period may last for a long time, so it is crucial to be fully prepared.
Therefore, just as when celebrating Mardi Gras, you may ready yourself to become adoptive parents by enjoying the finer fruits of your life. Enjoy a holiday before you begin work on a new and important project. Live fully and prepare to expand your family!