When it comes to whacky religious traditions, those Catholics are on their game. Why just this week there was:
Ash Wednesday: The beginning of Lent, where Catholics go to church and the priest or minister marks the forehead of each participant with black ashes. The symbolism echoes the ancient Near Eastern tradition of throwing ash over one's head signifying repentance before God (as related in the Bible). They wear the ashes on their forehead all day (which, every single year causes me to go, "Dude, that guy has a serious mole!" until I see the second or third large-moled person, and I realize that A) It's Ash Wednesday, and B) I'm stupid.)
Fat Tuesday: a.k.a. Marti Gras! Juxtaposed with Ash Wednesday, rather than wearing ashes, people wear very loud clothing (in quantities as slight as possible). It's the quintessential bender before the forty days of social/sexual/libational hibernation (depending on what you're "giving up") that is Lent. Also, while on most days legal tender is generally considered "coins, bills, checks, and credit cards", the preferred set of currency on Fat Tuesday is "beads, beer, vodka, and virginity".
So, we have Fat Tuesday Ash Wednesday. Everybody knows about those. What most people don't know is that the Catholics have every day of this week plotted out! Let's take a look...
Spinach Saturday: The color for this day is green, specifically, in the teeth. On this day Catholics eat a hearty quantity of spinach for breakfast, purposefully mashing as much of it as possible into the crevices between their teeth. Then all toothbrushes are removed from the house and burned (note: a special papal dispensation in 2004 was granted allowing Sonicare owners to merely discard and burn the replaceable head, citing the high cost of replacing the base unit every year). For the rest of the day, Catholics are then encouraged to "Smile super-big!" so as to show both the top and bottom rows of teeth, and use lots of words that utilize the long E sound. This is to show fealty to God and his wisdom in creating plants and vegeatables.
Poo-Shoe Sunday: a.k.a. "Walk a Mile in His Shoes Day". Step in some poo. Go on, do it. If you live in New York, this will be very easy. If you live in the suburbs you may have to resort to your cat's litter box or your child's diapers. Don't wipe it off. Not until sundown. Your co-workers my object, but if they do, you may threaten to sue on grounds of religious persecution (and you'll bloody win, too!). This tradition dates back to an old rivalry between shepherds and goatherds, each of whom believed that the other's animal's fecal matter was less pungent than that of his own animal. In order to put an end to a resulting 89-year blood-feud, King Irving (a.k.a. "King Irving the Embezzler") mandated that each step in the other's animal's excrement and walk for not less than a mile (round trip). That shut them up.
Mustard-Stain Monday: a.k.a. Dijon Danny Day! The early days of Catholicism were not easy; Catholics were oppressed, enslaved, even hunted for their shiny, shiny ivory. Catholics are, however, not easy to identify merely by appearances, so whenever a known Catholic passed by he would be squirted in the pants with mustard. Then one day, horrified by this inhumane treatment, a non-Catholic traveler named "Daniel" (his surname has not survived to this day) opted to show solidarity, and doused his own shorts with mustard. Danny mistakenly used Dijon mustard, though, (the Catholics were generally squirted with French's yellow) and due to the high concentration of horse-radish he had just dispensed to his crotchial region, he ran screaming through the town, flung himself into the nearest well, and drown. (note: wasabi, to this day, is not sanctioned by the
Trouser-Tent Thursday: Don't ask them about it, but the Catholics once were Jews. The Jews, back then, were a nomadic people (where as now, just try and get us to leave Brooklyn for an afternoon!), and dwelled, generally, in tents. The Jews were (and still are) also known for their comely women who "developed" early, and their teenage boys, who would "stare" and "gape" at them, while the whole world could read their mind through their tunics. Hence, Trouser-Tents.
and last, but certainly not least...
Frotteurism* Friday (if confused, see definition below): Catholics are, after all, if nothing else, all about the love. They give a lot, and they get a lot. The Catholic church is basically just one big love-fest. Frotteurism Friday, however, is the day they share that love with you, the stranger. Go ahead, rub up against that special someone on the train you've never seen before. Gently brush against your neighbor's wife. Do you work on the floor of the NY Stock Exchange? Heck, you can honor this age-old tradition during a busy bit of trading and no one will even notice (but they'll notice in their hearts, and in the eyes of Jesus). And if you're feeling ambitious, and you happen to be passing by a church... hey, what are you waiting for? That choir isn't going to frotteurize itself! Now get out there and give some LOVE!
*Frotteurism: In psychiatry, the clinical term frotteurism (no longer called frottage) refers to a specific sexual disorder. It is a paraphilia involving rubbing against another person to achieve sexual arousal or even orgasm, discreetly without being discovered, typically in a public place such as a crowded train. -wikipedia
P.S. Hope no one's offended. You know I love you guys from the deepest cockles of my heart.