Ash Wednesday While Traveling, Mardi Gras GIVEAWAY, and Southern Food

We receive compensation for some links on this blog and are always grateful if you use these links to support our content. Any opinions expressed in this post are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners. ,
Don't miss our "21 Must-Have Essentials for Summer Travel" for 2017.

I’ve left New Orleans for the frigid temperatures of the Thousand Islands region of upstate New York.  As sad as I am to have left Mardi Gras before today’s climax of the Rex and Zulu parades, I think my liver is grateful. And now I’m getting ready to observe Ash Wednesday while traveling.

Living in the south, I’m used to the decadence of southern food, but I try not to indulge often.  And when I get the special combination of southern mixed with Louisiana goodness, I lose control.  This weekend was a long episode of eating every food that my body cannot tolerate (especially wheat and corn) with total abandon.

Not sure what effect southern food has?  Check out this recent Buzzfeed video of people trying southern food for the first time!

My suitcase may be a bit too full of Mardi Gras swag. For those who haven’t been to the parades, the swag is more than just the infamous beads you hear about. All kinds of things get thrown. (Case in point, I came home with not one, but two light sabers on Saturday night!) I picked out a few of the more interesting non-bead throws and I’m going to make a care package to give away from my throws from the Thursday through Sunday Mid-Cities parades (including Bacchus, Endymion, Tucks, Muses, Hermes, and more)!

Interested in winning? Leave a note in the comments below. I’ll pick a winner from all the entries received by 11:59 pm Central Standard Time on Ash Wednesday (February 18, 2015).

Tomorrow my attention turns from decadence to reflection as we enter the season of Lent.

While different Christian faith traditions vary somewhat in their observation of Ash Wednesday, in many faith traditions it is encouraged or even obligatory to attend a brief observance service to “receive ashes”, the symbolic act of having ashes rubbed on one’s forehead in the shape of a cross. The ashes are derived from the burning of the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday. Ashes are viewed as an outward sign of repentance.

Some traditions also dictate fasting on Ash Wednesday to mark the beginning of the Lenten season.

This year, as in many years past, I’ll be traveling on Ash Wednesday. As such, I’ll be on the lookout for a service to attend to obtain ashes. I’ve found many places where I’ve been welcomed as a traveler in the past:

* Churches in the community I am visiting. Roman Catholic churches will be observing the holiday with a special mass on Ash Wednesday and in larger communities, may hold more than one including morning, lunchtime, and evening observances. In recent years, it has also become more common for Methodist, Episcopal, Lutheran, and Presbyterian congregations to observe Ash Wednesday rituals as well.  I’ve found most faith communities to be welcoming of travelers seeking to observe the day.

* Airport chapels  Airports with an onsite chapel will often have special Ash Wednesday observances for travelers, airport employees, and airline personnel. Chicago area airport chapels, for example, have a published schedule of available services.  In Charlotte, there will be hourly services from 8 am to 8 pm.  JFK will offer three services and have envelopes of ashes available all day.

* Faith-based organizations. Many of my client hospitals are faith-based organizations. I’ve sometimes received ashes at an onsite chapel while in the middle of my workday. (One year I actually attended with most of the executive team from the organization I was visiting.)  Universities (either faith-based or with an active student ministry) can be a good resource as well.

But if you miss all of these opportunities, do not despair.  Ash Wednesday is not a day of obligation in any Western faith tradition, not even Catholicism (although that is a common misconception).

About Jennifer Moody

Jennifer is a management consultant and avid volunteer. Her career and volunteer duty travels have helped her log top-tier airline and hotel status annually for the last eighteen years. In addition, she embraces the opportunity to maximize her vacation time by planning extracurricular trips that have taken her to over 60 countries and 47.5 US states. Although she averages 200 days a year on the road, she loves to return to “the homestead” in her native Fort Worth, Texas where she enjoys cooking, gardening, sewing, needlepoint, wine, and cocktail mixology.

More articles by Jennifer Moody »

Comments

  1. ATL has had ashes the last few years as well. Only in one terminal but still it’s helpful when you can’t get to a church.

    • I think many airports will have services – sadly many do not have information published. I fly home via LGA instead of ATL tomorrow and the LGA services are all before lunch so I’ll be hunting for a service on my drive back to Syracuse!

  2. Ironic it’s not a Holy Day of Obligation since I think more people go to Mass then than on Christmas or Easter. Go figure. =)

  3. If you ever find yourself in Chicago on Ash Wednesday, try a pepper & egg sandwich instead of Italian Beef for lunch. Most beef stands offer it on Fridays in Lent.

  4. why have a form of religion when you can have true religion. to go thru the symbolic recitual does really nothing for you .but repent or repentance in the greek means to turn about . quit living the way you are and change directions. when we do this from the heart and not thru form it will produce changes in our life and not for a season but for ever.so why do the form when you can have the real. i hope people really are sorry for there deeds. that ash wednesdaywill produce more than ashes on the forehead but heart changes .real sorrow produces definate changes in their lives that arent doing it because it is there duty.i think this world would be a better place. have a good evening.

  5. Went to Mardi Gras a couple times many, many years ago…..just loved the festivities! Always came home with beads and doubloons …not real of course! The partying was much tamer back in those days! 😉
    In fact my first airplane flight ever was on United from Pittsburgh to New Orleans for Mardi Gras 19xx 🙂

Speak Your Mind

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *