Each year, the Christian Church observes the season of Lent, which invites us into an inward reflection on our habits and actions and what we should amend or change in our lives. The season of Lent lasts six weeks and prepares us for the jubilation of Easter. Many people observe Lent by fasting from something that may have become a distraction in their life or by fasting or abstaining from luxuries, such as heavy or sweet foods containing butter, lard, cream, or sugar, and for some others, meat. Since Lent always begins on Ash Wednesday, people began to use the Tuesday before Lent as a way of getting rid of all the luxurious ingredients in the cupboards. In earlier times, luxurious ingredients for most people were eggs, milk, and butter. Mix these with a little flour and you have a simple pancake recipe! Making pancakes on Tuesday before Ash Wednesday became a tradition in the UK and other countries in that region. In France and the gulf communities of the US, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is known as Mardi Gras. In other parts of the world—notably Italy and Rio de Janeiro—the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is the last day of carnival/carnevale season. The Tuesday immediately preceding Ash Wednesday is known by many names which vary by region and culture but at St. Stephen’s we call it Shrove Tuesday because as an Episcopal Church and School this name represents our roots in the Anglican Church (which calls England home) and our continued relationship with the Anglican Communion. Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras also officially ends the season of Epiphany and is the vigil for the starting of Lent.
Traditionally viewed as a day of repentance, Shrove Tuesday has become the last day for celebration and feasting before the period of fasting required during the Lenten season. The name "Shrove Tuesday" is derived from the word "shrive", which means to confess and receive absolution, or to hear a confession and to absolve. The name denotes a period of cleansing, in which a person puts their appetites (physical and spiritual) back into their proper places through abstention and self-sacrifice.
Whether you observe Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday, come out for some delicious pancakes and sausage, laughs and cheer with the community, and help us make ashes to use for the Imposition of Ashes on Wednesday morning.
Shrove Tuesday is March 5 at 5:30 p.m. Visit Upcoming Events for more information.
Ryan Hawthorne, M. Div | Youth Missioner