Shrove Tuesday: What is it all about?

This Tuesday, March 4, Christ’s Church will be celebrating Shrove Tuesday. The day is called by other names that may be more familiar, like Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. This is the last day before the season of Lent  begins, and we will be celebrating it with a pancake dinner.

The word ‘shrove’ is the past tense of the word ‘shrive.’ Shrive means ‘to hear confession and absolve someone.’ In preparation for Lent, many Christians choose to reflect on their lives, confess their sins, and get spiritual direction on how they might get rid of their besetting sins and live a life of victory. Shrove Tuesday is a perfect day to reflect on the things that have to be stripped from our lives.

Well, that doesn’t sound like loads of fun, does it? How does that somber activity lead to a party where we eat pancakes for dinner? 

Glad you asked! Ileana grew up with some thrifty grandparents. They canned their own vegetables in the garden. The meat they ate was a product of hunts they went on. And, just like any other thrifty home, you can find some fat. Bacon grease shouldn’t go out in the back yard. It has tons of flavor and is great for cooking. 

On Shrove Tuesday (or Fat Tuesday), every thrifty home gets rid of the fat. After all, they won’t be needing that stuff during Lent because Lent is a period of fasting.

And, as a picture of all that fatty stuff being used up before Lent begins, we come together for one last, fatty meal, and the very best kind: Breakfast for dinner!

We eat together, we play together, and we recognize that it is time to take the fat out of our homes and prepare for a season of fasting.

Of course, this isn’t just about stored up bacon grease, though. This is about our lives. On Shrove Tuesday, the pancakes can be a representation of the things that God is asking us to strip from our lives during Lent, so that he can do the great work of making us holy.

As we prepare to celebrate together, be thinking about this: What is the fat in your life? What are the evil things that need to go this year? What are some of the good things that God might have you give up to focus on him and grow in your devotion toward him? Then, let’s celebrate, and as we celebrate, let’s say goodbye to all those things and see what God does to grow our faith.

See you this Shrove Tuesday.

James

Christ's Church