Sometimes our traditions come from the strangest of reasonings. Lent begins tomorrow - a time of repentance, prayer, fasting, works of charity, conversion and preparation to enter the mysteries of the Triduum and Easter. And so, today, in preparation, we give ourselves to "abandon".
In New Orleans we find Mardi Gras revelers eating and drinking and dancing themselves into oblivion. In Rio they are celebrating Carnivale and exposing themselves (sometimes literally) to the excesses of life. I read where officials in Rio have enacted and are trying to enforce a new law that outlaws urinating in public - primarily to not offend visitors as well as for health reasons. We let ourselves "go". Wiki Answers stated that this day people "eat gluttonous amounts of rich fatty food, drink and 'partake in sin-like behaviors' ". It reminds me somewhat of New Years Eve. What we remember the next morning is anyone guess.
Not all traditions are so "out there". There are other customs and traditions that involve food - the Polish have the tradition of "pillow doughnuts" called paczki or punchki's on this day before Lent. And it can be a "fun day" for families.
They main thing is that we focus on the importance of the day we call Ash Wednesday and the season of grace that follows - Lent. Enjoy today and celebrate tomorrow with calculated actions that enforce faith and do not give in to "reckless abandon".