Why Is Shrove Tuesday Celebrated

The word shrove is the past tense of shrive, which means seeking forgiveness for one’s evil-doings through confession and expiation.

Shrove Tuesday is a term commonly used in English-speaking countries of the West and Europe, most significantly in the United Kingdom, and parts of the United States to celebrate a day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, known as the season of fasting and prayer.

During Shrovetide, a week before Lent, Christians tended to perform confession before the onset of the penitential season of performing liturgical rites to please God. Shrove Tuesday, therefore, stands the last day of Shrovetide before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday, and has been in vogue since 1000 AD.

The trend of popular celebration of the day was some how related with the release of high spirits before the onset of the solemn Lent season.

Shrove Tuesday Pancake Why Is Shrove Tuesday Celebrated

The term Shrove Tuesday is not much popular outside of people who are used to observing the rites of the Methodist, Roman Catholic and Episcopal Churches in the United States.

The 19th century witnessed an increasing flux of immigrants and associated tradition regarding festivities; accordingly, Shrove Tuesday began to be known more famously as Mardi Gras.

In UK and many western countries, Shrove Tuesday is often referred to as Pancake Day. Using edibles such as, fat, sugar, and eggs, was held as final feast whose eating was forbidden by tradition during fasting of Lent.

The date on which Shrove Tuesday becomes due depends on Easter, a sliding feast day fixed with reference to cycles of the moon. The calendar range in which the date can fall may vary from as early as 3rd February to as late as 9th March.

Why Shrove was termed ‘Fat’ Tuesday

Fat Tuesday is a reference Catholics all over the world and few Protestants make, by convention, to the Shrove Tuesday falling consecutively before Ash Wednesday. The term ‘fat’ was coined quite before the Christian society witnessed the age of Reformation and designates the reference to the Christian tradition of feasting on highly nutritious ingredients forbidden during the fasting rites of Lent.

Festivities associated with Shrove Tuesday

Many communities in different towns of England have been celebrating traditional Shrove Tuesday by holding mob football games since 12th century AD. However, with the enactment of the Highway Act 1835, which prohibited playing football matches over public highways, the custom gradually diffused by the end of the 19th century.

Once known as ‘half-holiday’ in England, Shrove Tuesday used to start at 11 AM upon ringing of the church bell. The practice of pancake race, in which people wade through streets while flinging pancakes high in air, catching them back in the pan maintaining a steady run, largely remains a relatively common tradition in today’s England.

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