Monday, February 19, 2007


Carnival, carni vale, meat farewell.
By now the partying in the parish is full flow, dancing, feasting, opera going, street parties eating fat and meat and all of that sort of thing, then tomorrow at midnight amid the sound of party-poppers and raucous laughter the Church bell will ring out and silence will fall over the city. Then dancing will turn into solemn penitential processions, the feasting to strict fasting, the opera to sober oratorios, and all will say farewell to meat and fat. By Holy Week our bodies will be thin and sallow chastened by the rigours of a Holy Lent. The masks that have hidden our identity during carnival are cast off and trodden underfoot, we stand barefaced before the living God. Riotous partying will give way to rigorous conversion.
Well maybe not, there is a certain coldness about our Northern European feasting and fasting, Father Schofield, has an interesting post about carnival in Venice. I was once there for this extra-ordinary event, there was the touristy Canalettoesque partying, and the well mannered but fun student street partying, with plenty of broken glass crunching under foot on the streets along the canals. On Ash Wednesday all had changed, "La Princepessa" with whom I was staying insisting on boiled fish (actually lobster) for a light lunch, and a slightly sour white wine, as I was travelling.
On a previous occasion I had a Shrove Tuesday ("shrove" from "shrive" to confess) or Mardi Grasse (Fat Tuesday), with a Spanish/Portuguese family and we eat pancakes, well they were huge omelettes with all the things that wouldn't be eaten until Easter, bacon, chorizo, eggs, cream, cheese, butter, not the modern English skimpy little things.

1 comment:

Physiocrat said...

I like this piece. I don't mind eating meat when the animal has been shot and had a natural life. But if it has been kept in a shed and killed on a conveyor belt I just cannot enjoy it. However, having seen the Countryside Alliance demonstrators, I get the impression that there is a nasty sadistic streak in the people who go hunting for foxes etc and they do it for pleasure. But really there are more important things the government should be attending to.

Adolf Hitler was a famous vegetarian and believed in being kind to animals There could be a connection between this and his attitude to people and I would not want to share his eating habits.

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