It’s the last day before Lent which of course means Mardi Gras! And to mark the occasion, people across Sanctaria have been taking part in traditional carnivals, parades, and festivities to say farewell to overindulgence before the fasting season begins.
Lent, the Christian tradition of fasting, is estimated to be observed in some form by over 60% of Sanctarians, though only a minority (approximately 5%) actually abstain from eating or drinking from sun-up to sun-down. Most who take part in the fasting season tend to choose something they abstain from – for many that is chocolate or sweets, others choose alcohol or fatty foods.
But before the fasting begins, in Sanctaria one traditionally parties. And that’s exactly what has been happening in towns and cities across the country today.
In Eastern Sanctaria, particularly in the states of Terra Monticolarum and Novum Aeternum, religious processions through the streets are the norm. Done at a community level, and traditionally led by the local priest, it involves singing and praying, with each participant bringing a bowl of fruit, vegetables, or cold meats, with the procession ending at a common area (usually a community resource centre, but traditionally an open area like a forest or park) and everyone engaging in a communal meal.
Across the rest of Sanctaria, the event is much more debauched and loud. Big parades through the streets, musical festivals, fancy dress, and an over-abundance of rich foods and alcohol is this part of Sanctaria’s way of entering the Christian fasting season. Tourists come from far and wide to cities like Templar, Nicene, or Corpus to experience the carnival atmosphere for themselves. Local businesses traditionally shut down at noon on the day to let the streets be free for the festivities – but not before almost emptying their shops of stock, with droves of people invading to buy food and drink for the long day of partying ahead.
The day is also marked in the world of politics where, since 1990, the Prime Minister, now Chancellor, and the Leader of the Opposition take part in a pancake race, with the loser donating a month’s salary to a charity designated by the winner. The race, which involves a 100 meter run while flipping a pancake in a frying pan, is one of the highlights of the political calendar and gives politicians a chance to let their hair down. This year, SCP Leader Kate Cruz narrowly edged out Chancellor Charlene Hendry, whose March salary will now be donated to a local children’s hospital.