Carnival & Ashes

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As it is the case with many (if not all) Catholic traditions that have permeated the popular culture, the meaning and purpose of common rituals and customs began as ways of worshipping God. Case in point:

Tuesday before Ash Wednesday

This day has been referred as Mardi Grass, Shrove Tuesday or Carnival Day by different cultures in Europe and the Americas. While the meaning of Mardi Grass or Shrove Tuesday is commonly know since it represents how Catholics would get rid off all fatty, dairy and meat products (especially before the refrigeration era) so as to prepare for Lent. The same can not be said about Carnival meaning; the Sunday before Ash Wednesday was used to be called Dominica Carnevala

From the Latin: Levare meaning removal;
Caro/Carnis meaning meat

Ashes are a biblical symbol of mourning and penance. In Bible times the custom was to fast, wear sackcloth, sit in dust and ashes, and put dust and ashes on one’s head. (For example: Gen 18:27; 2 Sam 13:19; Esther 4:1-3; Dan 9:3)

From Latin: Dies Cinerum meaning Day of the Ashes

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