Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Shrove It, Revelers!


I don't see a whole lot of shriving going on...

Shrove comes from the old word "shrive" which means to confess. On Shrove Tuesday, in the Middle Ages, people used to confess their sins so that they were forgiven before the season of Lent began.

Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) is the last day before Lent. This day is one of the movable feasts in the church calendar and is directly related to the date on which Easter falls.

Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday, so the date varies from year to year and falls between February 3 and March 9.

Note: Lent is a forty-day period before Easter. It begins on Ash Wednesday. Catholics skip Sundays when they count the forty days, because Sundays commemorate the Resurrection. This year, Lent begins on 9 February 2005 and ends on 26 March 2005.

Lent is a time of abstinence, of giving things up. So Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to indulge yourself, and to use up the foods that aren't allowed in Lent. Pancakes are eaten on this day because they contain fat, butter and eggs which were forbidden during Lent.

Shrove Tuesday is also called Pancake Day, or Mardi Gras in France, which means Grease or Fat Tuesday.

The last three or four days before the beginning of Lent is known as Shrovetide. The old names for these days were:

Egg Saturday,
Quinquagesima Sunday
Collop Monday
Shrove Tuesday

Shrovetide was celebrated with games, sports, dancing and other revelries. There were feasts to use up the food that could not be eaten during the Lenten fast. Football was played in the streets and Nickanan Night (as Shrove Monday evening was called in Cornwall) was a time for boys to run riot in the villages: hiding gates, taking off door knockers, and making off with anything that householders had forgotten to lock away.

Here's to Fat Tuesday!


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