Shrove Tuesday – the eve of Lent – is also known as Mardi Gras (literally “fat Tuesday” in French”), Carnival (from the latin for “Farewell to the flesh”), and Fasnacht (the Germanic “night of the fast”). Medieval Christians developed carnivals to celebrate with exuberance one last time before the rigorous Lenten Fast. Although Lenten regulations varied with time and place, no meat, butter, eggs, milk or cheese were generally allowed during the 40 days. In addition to fasting, Christians were permitted no weddings, dances or festivals during Lent; the season was reserved for prayer and penance.
Pre-Lenten festivities are still widely observed today; Brazilians samba in the streets of Rio, N e w Orleans throws it’s most famous party of the year and the English celebrate with Pancake Tuesday. Families gather for sweet and savory pancake suppers to use up the bu er and eggs from the larder before the pious Lenten fast. Housewives still compete in the peculiar tradition of donning their aprons and racing each other holding pancake lled skillets. Strict rules require that each contestant successfully toss and ip pancakes into the air at least three times before crossing the nish line. (We do not have any pancake ipping plans on Shrove Tuesday. But, if you think we should – speak with Rev. Johanna!) In Venice bells ring out at midnight signaling the fun is over for another year.
The four main ingredients of the pancake symbolize four crucial points of signi cance at this time of year. Eggs – creation; Flour – the sta of life; Salt – wholesomeness; and Milk – purity. Pancakes were and still are believed to be of good luck in many areas of the world as they contain food stu s associated with the promotion of prosperity and longevity.
Shrove Tuesday derives its name from a di erent custom: that of confessing sins (being shriven) in order to begin the spiritual ba le of Lent renewed by an awareness of God’s power and mercy. Such a time of confession carries with it a spirit of sorrow and contrition over sin. For this reason, the word alleluia is omitted from Lenten liturgies and restored again during the celebrations of Easter. A Shrove Tuesday celebration is an excellent opportunity to bid farewell to this joyous word.
Both confession and festival are still excellent ways to prepare for Lent. Mark your calendars and plan to prepare yourselves to take Lent more seriously by feating and playing before-hand. Join us for a pancake feast but more importantly, a night of fellowship this Shrove Tuesday, February 28th from 5:30pm to 8:00pm.
Please sign-up to join us on the sign up sheet in our parish hall. Special plans are in the works to play a version of Family Feud created just for Grace! Stay tuned for more details as Shrove Tuesday approaches!
There is a sign-up sheet to donate food items, help set-up, flip pancakes and clean up! See you on Shrove Tuesday!