What is Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday?
Shrove Tuesday is the day that precedes Ash Wednesday. As it is determined by Easter, for which the actual date changes on an annual basis.
This year Pancake Day takes place on Tuesday 28th February.
The name Shrove Tuesday comes from 'shrive', meaning absolution for sins by doing penance. The day gets its name from the tradition of Christians trying to be 'shriven' before Lent.
Christians would go to Confession, where they admit their sins to a priest and ask for absolution. A bell would be rung to call them to Confession, which was called the 'pancake bell'. It's still rung today.
In the US it's called Mardi Gras aka 'Fat Tuesday' in French mainly because we use up the fatty foods before Lent.
Pancake Day itself came much later as a way of using up rich foods, like eggs, milk and sugar before the 40 days of fasting - Lent.
Pancakes are now forever associated with Shrove Tuesday as it is a sort of all-in-one way of using up some fatty foods before Lent.
In the past the ideas was for families to clear out their cupboards and remove the fattening foods (normally the tempting ones) so they aren't in their house during Lent.
Eggs, milk and sugar aren't traditionally eaten in fasting season, so need to be scoffed beforehand.
The actual tradition of mixing them up for pancakes is thought to come from a pagan ritual, but others say it is a Christian tradition - with each ingredient representing one of the four pillars of the faith. Eggs for creation, flour sustenance or the staff of life, salt for wholesomeness and milk for purity.
What is Ash Wednesday?
Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent. Its official name is “Day of Ashes,” so called because of the practice of rubbing ashes on one’s forehead in the sign of a cross.
Since it is exactly 40 days (excluding Sundays) before Easter Sunday, it will always fall on a Wednesday—there cannot be an “Ash Thursday” or “Ash Monday.”
The Bible never mentions Ash Wednesday—for that matter, it never mentions Lent. Lent is intended to be a time of self-denial, moderation, fasting, and the forsaking of sinful activities and habits.
Ash Wednesday commences this period of spiritual discipline. Ash Wednesday and Lent are observed by most Catholics and some Protestant denominations. The Eastern Orthodox Church does not observe Ash Wednesday; instead, they start Lent on “Clean Monday.
”While the Bible does not mention Ash Wednesday, it does record accounts of people in the Old Testament using dust and ashes as symbols of repentance and/or mourning (2 Samuel 13:19;Esther 4:1;Job 2:8;Daniel 9:3).
The modern tradition of rubbing a cross on a person’s forehead supposedly identifies that person with Jesus Christ.Should a Christian observe Ash Wednesday? Since the Bible nowhere explicitly commands or condemns such a practice, Christians are at liberty to prayerfully decide whether or not to observe Ash Wednesday.
If a Christian decides to observe Ash Wednesday and/or Lent, it is important to have a biblical perspective. Jesus warned us against making a show of our fasting: “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen” (Matthew 6:16-18).
We must not allow spiritual discipline to become spiritual pride. It is a good thing to repent of sinful activities, but that’s something Christians should do every day, not just during Lent. It’s a good thing to clearly identify oneself as a Christian, but, again, this should be an everyday identification. And it is good to remember that no ritual can make one’s heart right with God.
Ash Wednesday Calendar:
2017 – March 1
2018 – February 14
2019 – March 6
2020 – February 26
Many Catholics choose to sacrifice something during the season of Lent. We obviously can't go forty days in the desert without food or drink like Jesus did, but giving up a favorite food or activity is the modern way of celebrating the season that leads up to Easter.
Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry. The tempter came to him and said,
"If you are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread." Jesus answered, "It is written: 'Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
What to give up for lent in 7 Steps.....
Decide if you want to "give up" something. Lent is based on sacrifice, so most Catholics choose to stop eating a favorite food or pursuing a favorite activity. However, you can also choose to do something instead. For example, say an extra prayer every day, go to Church twice a week, or read some scripture verses. Many find it harder to commit to doing something extra in this forty-day period, while others see it as the easy option. Whether you give up or start something is completely your choice, so choose wisely.
If you do decide to give up something, determine what is important to you.Do not give up something you do not like; this is not a sacrifice at all. Don't give up something you don't have, either. For example: if you've never tried peanut butter cookies before, don't make this your Lenten sacrifice, because you're not sacrificing anything you have.
Pick a favorite. Sit down and think: What is my favorite food? What is my favorite drink? Favorite treat? Snack? Dessert? Activity? These things that are truly important to you might seem like a difficult thing to go without for forty days, but remember: It will be all the more worth it on Easter morning if you went through with something you thought you couldn't live without.
Consider giving up a bad habit. Constantly biting your nails and want to stop it? Make this your Lenten goal.
Consider giving up an addiction. Things like cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol harm your body, and to make it your Lenten (and personal) goal to lash out these bad addictions (not just for Lent, but permanently) would be very rewarding to both you and God, and give you a lasting sense of accomplishment.
- Is this something I like?
- Is this something I enjoy doing/eating?
- Is this something that's important to me?
- Do I think this will be a challenge throughout Lent?
- Will I appreciate this when I can have/do it again on Easter?
- Am I giving this up because I have to (someone is making me), or because I want to?
- Is it a true sacrifice?
If you answered yes to all of these questions, you've chosen an excellent Lenten sacrifice.
Once you've chosen what you'd like to give up, consider the following questions:
7 Stick with it. Say you've given up your favorite treat, chocolate, and it's been about a week. You rarely go this amount of time without your candy sweets, and you're not sure you can make it until Easter. Don't quit. Don't give up or give in early. Jesus ate nothing for forty days, and we have to do is sacrifice one little bit of our busy lives. On Easter morning, you'll thank yourself for it, and more importantly, God will thank you, too.