Fat Tuesday, Carne Vale

Well, tonight is Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, the night of Carnival before Lent begins. You don’t have to be an observant Catholic to realise that these ancient traditions punctuate the year satisfyingly, and elide neatly with the rhythm of the land and the seasons. Lent is as much a part of our culture, even if only as an echo of a more religious age, as is the Twelve Days of Christmas , or All Hallows Eve (Halloween of course).

Gordon Brown’s nefarious henchman Damian McBride provides a remarkably good precis of Lent, fasting, and all the rest of it – Extreme Lenting 2013 – on his surprisingly good blog. He’s really going for it. The Knife isn’t inclined to own up to what he’s giving up, or trying to do better, but I am certainly doing something.

To set the mood, here is Bruegel’s epic Battle Between Carnival and Lent, neatly analysed here and here.

Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum. 1559
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum. 1559
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