Nave Gazing – Shrove Tuesday

So, what is Shrove Tuesday, and why do we eat pancakes ? The name “Shrove Tuesday” derives from the old Middle English word ‘Shrive’ meaning to absolve someone for sins. Shrovetide (the week before Lent) was a time when folks went to confession before Lent began. As time went by, most people (like we do to-day), put that off until the very end. This became known as Shriven Tuesday and then Shrove Tuesday.

As the Middle Ages slowly passed into the shadows, Ash Wednesday began to become the day on which we started to focus on our sins. Shrove Tuesday, then, became the last day to indulge in the richness of God’s abundance.

Food items such as meats, fats, eggs, milk, and fish were regarded as re-stricted during Lent. To keep such food from being wasted, many fami-lies would have big feasts on Shrove Tuesday in order to consume those items that would inevitably become spoiled during the next forty days. The English tradition of eating pan-cakes on Shrove Tuesday came about as a way to use as much milk, fats, and eggs as possible before Lent began. In France, the consumption of all fats and fatty foods on this day coined the name “Fat Tuesday” or Mardi Gras.. This custom of making pancakes still continues today in the United Kingdom and here in The United States.

While we don’t have to worry so much about spoilage and we don’t limit our diet as strictly, we still do carry forward many hints of our ancestors’ observance. We often sacrifice something that we love to eat for Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday. How many times do we hear someone say, “Oh, I gave up coffee for Lent,” or “I don’t eat meat on Fridays during Lent”? These are all connections to our rich theological past.

So, I invite you to celebrate Shrove Tuesday, whether with pancakes (and sausage!), or maybe that tub of ice cream sitting in the freezer. Then, on Ash Wednesday, join your brothers and sisters in Christ as we walk with him to the cross. . . and beyond.



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