Familiar with Fat Tuesday and Ash Wednesday? If you are, you have to be familiar with Big Steak Thursday. It’s a cornerstone of the whole [secular] aspect of the Catholic church.
I don’t even know at this point, given all the folk lore and “personal rebellion” within the Catholic Church, if fasting is still required. I know it used to be no meat on any Friday, but that got changed during the reforms of Vatican II in the late 60’s. I’m still pretty sure that, as a “proper” catholic, you are to eat no meat on Ash Wednesday and during the five Fridays of Lent. I think it’s five… I’m not about to do the math because however long it is, it still feels like a year.
Anyway, most people will argue with you that the whole “non-meat thing” was started to help business, given that the apostles were fishermen. Or that it’s strictly a secular bylaw. Or what should it matter, seeing as it’s got no religious meaning. Any of these could be true I suppose, but what I do know is that Lent is about sacrifice and giving up meat is a sacrifice. For me it is. I used to give up fasting for Lent when I was younger because it was easier to do. My four major food groups are beef, chicken, pork, and cheese. That leaves me eating cheddar on Ritz crackers for six days out of the year, if I want to follow this. So it’s about the effort of making a sacrifice, if I correctly remember my Catholic mumbo-jumbo from high school.
And that brings us to the calendar this week. Fat Tuesday was made popular by the decadent citizens of New Orleans: the idea was to party like mad the day before Lent started because you were expected to fast for the next 40 days. Remember that New Orleans was settled by the very [at the time] French in the days that required fasting for the entire 40 day term. The French were touchy, religious things in the 1700’s. As the last minute of Fat Tuesday was spent, and Ash Wednesday started the Lenten period, the party stopped at once. In more modern times, two days after Ash Wednesday was the first non-meat-consuming Friday. What’s in the middle? Big Steak Thursday.
Tomorrow is a carnivorous free-for-all, for exactly 24 hours. Camp out in a Outback and order the 64oz porterhouse. Descend upon a KFC, with an inch thick wad of bills in hand, and cause them nothing but a “we can’t keep up with the demand” panic. Pull a Bobby Brady and go for the pork chops and apple sauce. Better yet, screw the apple sauce, and get extra chops and a side of beef. Consume as much meat as you can because once Big Steak Thursday is over, you’ll be eating three meals of cheese and bread again for another 24 hours.
Time is limited so make the most of it. Go get a steak and enjoy it because more fasting is a comin’.