Some come to party, some come to pray.
To mark Mardi Gras and Catholic Lent, several events, including prayer and feasts, will take place on campus.
The beginning of Lent, a 40-day holy period in preparation for Easter, is celebrated by Catholics and non-Catholics alike, according to RamCatholic correspondent Josh Applegate. RamCatholic, along with RamsHorn Dining Hall and several clubs, will be putting on several events to mark Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday) Feb. 17 and 18.
A Mardi Gras feast at Rams Horn dining hall is taking place Wednesday. The brains behind the feast is Assistant Manager Megan Skeehan, part-time business administration major.
“We wanted to create a fun event that centered on the food,” Skeehan said. “We had a lot of success with Mardi Gras last year.”
Skeehan said the event will also be educational for students who are unfamiliar with the New Orleans’ cultural tradition of Mardi Gras.
“The menu will showcase traditional foods like pough boys and crawfish, and decor will feature symbols like masks, coins and beads,” Skeehan said.
Tuesday night, the French and German clubs collaborated to put on an international themed Mardi Gras party in the Ramskeller.
“The goal was to promote the German and French versions of Mardi Gras,” said German club president Chris Craddock. “Most people only know the New Orleans celebration.”
Although technically a religious holiday, some non-Catholic students think of Mardi Gras as a yearly party. Rachel Rhodes, a second-year English education and theater performance major, said she identifies as a non-denominational Christian, and does not celebrate Lent.
“I grew up in Louisiana, so I definitely knew about Mardi Gras,” Rhodes said. “I don’t associate it with religion, just beads and parades.”
For Catholic students, Mardi Gras marks a more powerful, spiritual time.
Second-year Catholic student Maggie Smith, a sports medicine major, said for Lent she plans to give up eating sweets and to journal the presence of God in her life.
“Lent is a time to remember all the sacrifices Jesus made, and by making changes for Lent, you are able to reflect on your life and see if you are living it the best possible way,” Smith said.
Applegate said that Mardi Gras is a time to get ready for the fasting observed during Lent.
“Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is used to prepare for Lent, and to remove tempting or more luxurious foods from the refrigerator,” Applegate said. “That’s what leads to the feasting. Lent is a time to reflect on your life, reevaluate priorities and unite with Christ’s suffering.”
RamCatholic will be hosting a Mardi Gras party in the J23 Event Center at 8 p.m., and will lead Ash Wednesday events on campus on the Feb. 18. There will be a mass at 10 a.m. and 12 p.m. in the Lory Student Center, and distribution of ashes at 3 p.m. in the plaza. Boards will be set up in the plaza so students can post their thoughts about Lent.
“All students are welcome to attend and to receive ashes,” Applegate said. “And, they are welcome to share their Lent celebrations and sacrifices with us.”
Collegian reporter Rachel Musselmann can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @rmusselmann.