Football and Celebrations: It must be Septuagesima!
Honestly I really didn’t get Septuagesima until…well, last week. It seemed strange to have a two and a half week period of preparation before Lent: a period of preparation. Isn’t preparing to prepare a bit redundant? So what changed my mind? One word: Shrovetide. Most of us know about Mardi Gras, or Carnival, but Shrovetide? Sure, Shrove Tuesday, but Shrovetide is more than a pancake dinner in the church basement and the burning of palms the night before Ash Wednesday. Shrovetide starts today. The Orthodox Church has Meatfare and Cheesefare: two weeks of purging the house of those things (mostly animal protein) that will not be consumed during the Lenten fast. In the west this is Gesimatide or Shrovetide: the preparation before the preparation. Well what’s a person to do with all the meat, and fat that is verboten during Lent? Have a party, a football party if you live in Ashbourne. If you think your Super Bowl party is an old family tradition, the Royal Shrovetide Football match in Ashbourne is nearly 1,000 years old.
Now that’s football!
Tradition is a small obsession with me. And in looking into Shrovetide traditions I was taken back to an earlier post of mine. In Gruß Vom Krampus I discussed some of the Krampusnacht traditions, origins, and Christian acculturation. There are similar European customs during Shrovetide. These traditions involve nature spirits, and traditional or semi-traditional characters that are called upon to banish winter and welcome spring. There are parades and performances, music and mummery, and plenty of feasting before the fast. In German this time is called Fastnacht. Fastnacht is celebrated in similar ways from the Czech Republic to Tyrol.
I wonder about the people who want to bring Krampus to America. Would they be interested in Fastnact as well? Krampusnacht and Fastnacht have a similar pagan appearance and origin, but both have been brought in to a Christian context. In the midst of Advent, Krampusnacht ends with the appearance of Saint Nicholas pointing the way to the Christmas crèche. Fastnacht ends with Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent which is, like Advent, a time of fasting and repentance that points us to, what the Apology to the Augsburg Confession calls, “God’s offer promising forgiveness of sin and justification” in the resurrection of His Son. Perhaps the same people advocating an importing of Krampusnacht have been distracted from advocating a similar importing of Fastnacht by the tinsel and tits of New Orleans. If only they would look instead to West Virginia, where Swiss settlers brought some of their Fastnacht traditions under the name of Fasnacht.
…and in Pennsylvania?
Remember, next week is