What is Shrove Tuesday?
Updated Feb 25, 2020; Posted Feb 25, 2020
By Greg Garrison | firstname.lastname@example.org
It’s Shrove Tuesday today, also known as Shrovetide Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday. So what does “Shrove” mean? And why are some Christians eating pancakes today?
Pancakes were traditionally eaten on the day before Ash Wednesday because they were a way to use up eggs, milk, and sugar before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. Liturgical fasting during Lent emphasizes eating plainer food and refraining from “pleasurable” foods such as meat, dairy and eggs. Many people “give something up” during Lent as a way to prepare for Easter, which is on April 12 this year.
Shrove is the past tense of shrive, which means to gain absolution of sins by confession and repentance. Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Tuesday in some western European countries. The pancake aspect is not as widely observed in the United States as it is in England.
Of course, in America today is more popularly known as Mardi Gras, which is “Fat Tuesday” in French.
It’s called Fat Tuesday because it’s the last day of indulgence before Ash Wednesday, when ashes are imposed on the forehead in the mark of a cross, with the minister quoting Genesis on the mortality of man.
Many Episcopal churches have pancake suppers on Shrove Tuesday, often as fundraisers for parish youth groups.