If you ever have run a marathon before, you know that the night before the race you typically carbo-load, with a large pasta dinner.
The equivalent of this carbo-load in the fasting world is “Fat Tuesday” or as it translates into French, “Mardi Gras”.
Today is a day of celebrations all over the world. I’m not sure how many know it is to celebrate the end of Shrovetide and the marking of Lent tomorrow.
- Carnival is similar, coming from the Latin word for “taking away of flesh” (carne levare).
- Shrove Tuesday (also known in Commonwealth countries as Pancake Tuesday or Pancake day) is the day in February or March immediately preceding Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent), which is celebrated in some countries by consuming pancakes. The English custom of eating pancakes was undoubtedly suggested by the need of using up the eggs and fat which were, originally at least, prohibited articles of diet during the forty days of Lent. The same prohibition is, of course, mainly responsible for the association of eggs with the Easter festival at the other end of Lent.
- Shrove comes from shrive. Shriving is the act of (a priest) hearing a confession and prescribing penance, or granting absolution.
- Shrove Tuesday is observed by many Christians, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Roman Catholics, who “make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs they need to repent, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they especially need to ask God’s help in dealing with.”
Pancakes are big today. They are associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. In addition, pancakes, in Christianity, symbolize”four pillars of the Christian faith–eggs for creation, flour as the mainstay of the human diet, salt for wholesomeness and milk for purity.” The liturgical fasting emphasized eating plainer food and refraining from food that would give pleasure: in many cultures, this means no meat, dairy products, or eggs.
Want to find out more? See:
- National Geographic‘s recommendations for the top 10 pre-Lenten carnival
Eat well, but do not overeat. Tomorrow the 1917 fast begins.