Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent), observed in many Christian countries through participating in confession and absolution, the ritual burning of the previous year's Holy Week palms, finalizing one's Lenten sacrifice, as well as eating pancakes and other sweets.
|Observed by||Christians (including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Roman Catholics)|
|Observances||Confession and Absolution, the ritual burning of the previous year's Palm Sunday branches, finalizing one's Lenten sacrifice, eating pancakes and other sweets|
|Date||Concluding day of Shrovetide; one day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday|
|2019 date||March 5|
|2020 date||February 25|
|2021 date||February 16|
|2022 date||March 1|
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." This moveable feast is determined by Easter. The expression "Shrove Tuesday" comes from the word shrive, meaning "absolve".
As this is the last day of the Christian liturgical season historically known as Shrovetide, before the penitential season of Lent, related popular practices, such as indulging in food that one might give up as their Lenten sacrifice for the upcoming forty days, are associated with Shrove Tuesday celebrations. The term Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday", referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday. Many Christian congregations thus observe the day through the holding of pancake breakfasts, as well as the ringing of church bells to remind people to repent of their sins before the start of Lent. On Shrove Tuesday, churches also burn the palms distributed during the previous year's Palm Sunday liturgies to make the ashes used during the services held on the very next day, Ash Wednesday.
In some Christian countries, especially those where the day is called Mardi Gras or a translation thereof, it is a carnival day, the last day of "fat eating" or "gorging" before the fasting period of Lent.
The tradition of marking the start of Lent has been documented for centuries. Ælfric of Eynsham's "Ecclesiastical Institutes" from around 1000 AD states: "In the week immediately before Lent everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive him as he then may hear by his deeds what he is to do [in the way of penance]". By the time of the late Middle Ages, the celebration of Shrovetide lasted until the start of Lent. It was traditional in many societies to eat pancakes or other foods made with the butter, eggs and fat that would be given up during the Lenten season. Similar foods are fasnachts and pączki. The specific custom of British Christians eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday dates to the 16th century. Along with its emphasis on feasting, another theme of Shrove Tuesday involves Christians repenting of their sins in preparation to begin the season of Lent in the Christian calendar. In many Christian parish churches, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, a popular Shrove Tuesday tradition is the ringing of the church bells (on this day, the toll is known as the Shriving Bell) "to call the faithful to confession before the solemn season of Lent" and for people to "begin frying their pancakes".
The word shrove is a form of the English word shrive, which means to obtain absolution for one's sins by way of Confession and doing penance. Thus Shrove Tuesday was named after the custom of Christians to be "shriven" before the start of Lent.
In the United Kingdom, Ireland and parts of the Commonwealth, Shrove Tuesday is also known as "Pancake Day" or "Pancake Tuesday", as it became a traditional custom to eat pancakes as a meal. In Irish the day is known as Máirt Inide, from the Latin initium (Jejūniī), "beginning of Lent." Elsewhere, the day has also been called "Mardi Gras", meaning "Fat Tuesday", after the type of celebratory meal that day.
In Germany, the day is known as Fastnachtsdienstag, Faschingsdienstag, Karnevalsdienstag or Veilchendienstag (the last of which translates to violet [the flower] Tuesday). It is celebrated with fancy dress and a partial school holiday. Similarly, in German American areas, such as Pennsylvania Dutch Country, it is known as Fastnacht Day.
In the Netherlands, it is known as "vastenavond", or in Limburgish dialect "vastelaovend", though the word "vastelaovend" usually refers to the entire period of carnival in the Netherlands. In some parts of Switzerland (e.g. Lucerne), the day is called Güdeldienstag or Güdisdienstag (preceded by Güdismontag). According to the Duden dictionary, the term derives from "Güdel", which means a fat belly stuffed full of food.
In Portuguese-, Spanish- and Italian-speaking countries, among others, it is known as Carnival (to use the English spelling). This derives from Medieval Latin carnelevamen ("the putting away of flesh") and thus to another aspect of the Lenten fast, to abstain from eating meat. It is often celebrated with street processions or fancy dress.
The most famous of these events has become the Brazilian Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Venetians have long celebrated carnival with a masquerade. The use of the term "carnival" in other contexts derives from this celebration. In Spain, the Carnival Tuesday is named "día de la tortilla" ("omelette day"): an omelette made with some sausage or pork fat is eaten. On the Portuguese island of Madeira, malasadas are eaten on Terça-feira Gorda (Fat Tuesday in English), which is also the last day of the Carnival of Madeira. Malasadas were cooked in order to use up all the lard and sugar in the house, in preparation for Lenten restrictions. This tradition was taken to Hawaii, where Shrove Tuesday is known as Malasada Day, which dates back to the days of the sugar plantations of the 1800s. The resident Catholic Portuguese workers (who came mostly from Madeira and the Azores) used up butter and sugar prior to Lent by making large batches of malasadas.
In Denmark and Norway, the Tuesday before Ash wednesday is called ′Fetetirsdag′(fat tuesday) the weekend before is known as Fastelavn and is marked by eating fastelavnsboller. Fastelavn is the name for Carnival in Denmark which is either the Sunday or Monday before Ash Wednesday. Fastelavn developed from the Roman Catholic tradition of celebrating in the days before Lent, but after Denmark became a Protestant nation, the holiday became less specifically religious. This holiday occurs seven weeks before Easter Sunday, with children dressing up in costumes and gathering treats for the Fastelavn feast. The holiday is generally considered to be a time for children's fun and family games. In Estonia, the day is similarly called Vastlapäev and is generally celebrated by eating pea soup and whipped-cream or whipped-cream and jam filled sweet-buns called vastlakukkel, similar to the Swedish fastlagsbulle or semla. Children also typically go sledding on this day.
In Iceland, the day is known as Sprengidagur (Bursting Day) and is marked by eating salted meat and peas. In Lithuania, the day is called Užgavėnės. People eat pancakes (blynai) and Lithuanian-style doughnuts. In Sweden, the day is called Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday), and is generally celebrated by eating a type of sweet roll called fastlagsbulle or semla. In Finland, the day is called laskiainen and is generally celebrated by eating green pea soup and a pastry called laskiaispulla (sweet bread filled with whipped cream and jam or almond paste, same as the Swedish semla). The celebration often includes downhill sledging.
In Poland, a related celebration falls on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday and is called tłusty czwartek (Fat Thursday). In some areas of the United States, with large Polish communities, such as Chicago, Buffalo and Michigan, Tłusty Czwartek is celebrated with pączki or faworki eating contests, music and other Polish food. It may be held on Shrove Tuesday or in the days immediately preceding it.
In Slovenia, Kurentovanje is also the biggest and best known carnival. There are several more local carnivals usually referred to as Laufarija. In Hungary, and the Hungarian-speaking territories, it is called Húshagyókedd (literally the Tuesday leaving the meat) and is celebrated by fancy dress and visiting neighbours.
Shrove Tuesday serves a dual purpose of allowing Christians to repent of any sins they might have made before the start of Lent on the next day Ash Wednesday and also giving them the opportunity to engage in a last round of merriment before the start of the somber Lenten season, which is characterized by making a Lenten sacrifice, fasting, praying and engaging in various spiritual disciplines, such as marking a Lenten calendar and reading a daily devotional.
Pancakes are associated with Shrove Tuesday, the day preceding Lent, because they are a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The liturgical fasting emphasizes eating simpler food, and refraining from food that would give undue pleasure: in many cultures, this means no meat, dairy products, or eggs.
In Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island small tokens are frequently cooked in the pancakes. Children take delight in discovering the objects, which are intended to be divinatory. For example, the person who receives a coin will be wealthy; a nail indicates that they will become or marry a carpenter.
On the final day of the Shrovetide season, Shrove Tuesday, many traditional Christians, such as Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Roman Catholics, "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."
On Shrove Tuesday, many Christians finalize their decision with respect to what Lenten sacrifices they will make for Lent. While making a Lenten sacrifice, it is customary to pray for strength to keep it; many often wish others for doing so as well, e.g. "May God bless your Lenten sacrifice."
During Shrovetide, many churches place a basket in the narthex to collect the previous year's Holy Week palm branches that were blessed and distributed during the Palm Sunday liturgies; on Shrove Tuesday, churches burn these palms to make the ashes used during the services held on the very next day, Ash Wednesday.
In the United Kingdom, as part of community celebration, many towns held traditional Shrove Tuesday "mob football" games, some dating as far back as the 17th century. The practice mostly died out in the 19th century after the passing of the Highway Act 1835 which banned playing football on public highways. A number of towns have maintained the tradition, including Alnwick in Northumberland (Scoring the Hales), Ashbourne in Derbyshire (called the Royal Shrovetide Football), Atherstone in Warwickshire (called simply the Atherstone Ball Game), St Columb Major in Cornwall (called Hurling the Silver Ball), and Sedgefield in County Durham (Sedgefield Ball Game).
Shrove Tuesday was once known as a "half-holiday" in Britain. It started at 11:00 am with the ringing of a church bell. On Pancake Day, "pancake races" are held in villages and towns across the United Kingdom. The tradition is said to have originated in 1445 when a housewife from Olney, Buckinghamshire, was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake, tossing it to prevent it from burning. The pancake race remains a relatively common festive tradition in the UK, especially England. Participants with frying pans race through the streets tossing pancakes into the air and catching them in the pan while running. The pancake race at Olney traditionally has women contestants who carry a frying pan and race over a 415-yard course to the finishing line. The rules are strict: contestants must toss the pancake at the start and the finish, and wear a scarf and apron.
Since 1950 the people of Liberal, Kansas, and Olney have held the "International Pancake Day" race between the two towns. The two towns' competitors race along an agreed-upon measured course. The times of the two towns' competitors are compared to determine a winner overall. After the 2009 race, Liberal was leading with 34 wins to Olney's 25. A similar race is held in North Somercotes in Lincolnshire, England.
In London, the Rehab Parliamentary Pancake Race takes place every Shrove Tuesday, with teams from the British lower house (the House of Commons), the upper house (the House of Lords), and the Fourth Estate, contending for the title of Parliamentary Pancake Race Champions. The fun relay race is to raise awareness of Rehab, which provides a range of health and social care, training, education, and employment services in the UK for disabled people and others who are marginalised.
Scarborough celebrates by closing the foreshore to all traffic, closing schools early, and inviting all to skip. Traditionally, long ropes were used from the nearby harbour. The town crier rang the pancake bell, situated on the corner of Westborough (main street) and Huntriss Row. Since 1996 a replica "pancake bell" situated at Newborough and North Street has been rung to initiate the day's festivities.
The children of the hamlet of Whitechapel, Lancashire keep alive a local tradition by visiting local households and asking "please a pancake", to be rewarded with oranges or sweets. It is thought the tradition arose when farm workers visited the wealthier farm and manor owners to ask for pancakes or pancake fillings.
In Finland, the day is known as Laskiainen. It is a celebration with Finnish origins, which includes both pagan and ecclesiastic traditions, and is often described as a "mid-winter sliding festival".
Shrove Tuesday occurs on these dates:
- 2020 – February 25
- 2021 – February 16
- 2022 – March 1
- 2023 – February 21
- 2024 – February 13
- 2025 – March 4
- 2026 – February 17
- 2027 – February 9
- 2028 – February 29
- 2029 – February 13
- 2030 – March 5
- 2031 – February 25
- 2032 – February 10
- 2033 – March 1
- 2034 – February 21
- 2035 – February 6
- 2036 – February 26
- 2037 – February 17
- 2038 – March 9
- 2039 – February 22
- 2040 – February 14
- 2041 – March 5
- 2042 – February 18
- 2043 – February 10
- 2044 – March 1
- 2045 – February 21
- 2046 – February 6
- 2047 – February 26
- 2048 – February 18
- 2049 – March 2
- 2050 – February 22
- 2051 – February 14
- 2052 – March 5
- 2053 – February 18
- 2054 – February 10
- 2055 – March 2
- 2056 – February 15
- 2057 – March 6
- 2058 – February 26
- 2059 – February 11
- 2060 – March 2
- 2061 – February 22
- 2062 – February 7
- 2063 – February 27
- 2064 – February 19
- 2065 – February 10
- 2066 – February 23
- 2067 – February 15
- 2068 – March 6
- 2069 – February 26
- 2070 – February 11
- 2071 – March 3
- 2072 – February 23
- 2073 – February 7
- 2074 – February 27
- 2075 – February 19
- 2076 – March 3
- 2077 – February 23
- 2078 – February 15
- 2079 – March 7
- 2080 – February 20
- 2081 – February 11
- 2082 – March 3
- 2083 – February 16
- 2084 – February 8
- 2085 – February 27
- 2086 – February 12
- 2087 – March 4
- 2088 – February 24
- 2089 – February 15
- 2090 – February 28
- 2091 – February 20
- 2092 – February 12
- 2093 – February 24
- 2094 – February 16
- 2095 – March 8
- 2096 – February 28
- 2097 – February 12
- 2098 – March 4
- 2099 – February 24
- 2100 – February 9
- Kelvey, Jon (13 February 2018). "Strawbridge United Methodist keeps Shrove Tuesday pancake tradition". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
Many churches—including Catholic, Anglican and Methodist—celebrate Shrove Tuesday then as the beginning of the season of lent, a time to reflect and repent of wrongdoings. But, as Howard notes, it’s also called Fat Tuesday, a time to load up on rich food before Lent(40 Days). “For some people it’s Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, a time to fatten up before you give something up,” he said.
- Cocks, Alfred Heneage (1897). The church bells of Buckinghamshire: their inscriptions, founders, and uses, and traditions; &c. Jarrold & sons. p. 276.
- "Shrove Tuesday burning of the Palms". DSPNSDA PPC. 2 March 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
- Walker, Katie (2011). Shrove Tuesday inspires unique church traditions. Archived 14 February 2016 at the Wayback Machine
- Provine, Darren (2014). Shrove Tuesday
- Melitta Weiss Adamson; Francine Segan (2008). Entertaining from Ancient Rome to the Super Bowl. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 978-0313086892.
In Anglican countries, Mardis Gras is known as Shrove Tuesday-from shrive meaning "confess"—or Pancake Tuesday—after the breakfast food that symbolizes one final hearty meal of eggs, butter, and sugar before the fast. On Ash Wednesday, the morning after Mardi Gras, repentant Christians return to church to receive upon the forehead the sign of the cross in ashes.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
- "Shrove Tuesday Pancake Breakfast & Worship". Bishop United Methodist Church. 26 February 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
- "Shrovetide". Catholic Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on 14 September 2015. Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- Self, David (1993). One Hundred Readings for Assembly. Heinemann. p. 24. ISBN 978-0-435-80041-3.
- Collins, Tony; Martin, John; Vamplew, Wray (2005). Encyclopedia of Traditional British Rural Sports. Psychology Press. p. 202. ISBN 978-0415352246.
The association between pancakes and Shrove Tuesday appears to have its origins in the fact that the pancakes used up food such as butter, eggs and fat that were prohibited during Lent, which begins the following day on Ash Wednesday. ... Pancakes have been eaten on Shrove Tuesday since at least the sixteenth century. In some parishes it was the custom for the church bell to ring at noon as the signal for people to begin frying their pancakes.
- Stephens, Valerie (2016). Basic Philosophy. p. 21. ISBN 978-1329951747.
Then there is Shrove Tuesday, which is the day observed before Ash Wednesday or Lent. Shrove Tuesday derives from the days where the earliest practicing Christians would repent of their sins and be "shriven" or pardoned.
- Pulleyn, William (1828). The Etymological Compendium, Or Portfolio of Origins and Inventions. Richard Griffin and Company. p. 192.
- "Catholic Encyclopedia: Shrovetide". Archived from the original on 18 October 2014. Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- Stackpoole, Nelius. "The 5 Best Pancake Recipes Ahead Of Pancake Tuesday". SPINSouthWest.
- "Shrove Tuesday – Pancake Day!". Irish Culture and Customs. Archived from the original on 9 December 2006. Retrieved 17 November 2006.
- "Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) in the UK". British Embassy, Washington DC. Archived from the original on 23 February 2007. Retrieved 17 November 2006.
- "Easter in Australia". The Australian Government Culture and Recreation Portal. Archived from the original on 7 October 2006. Retrieved 17 November 2006.
- "Pota Focal | Inid". Pota Focal.
- Love Life Live Lent Family Book: Transform Your World. Church House Publishing. 2008. ISBN 978-0-7151-4182-3. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017.
- Shoemaker, Alfred Lewis (2000). Eastertide in Pennsylvania: A Folk-cultural Study. Stackpole Books. p. 8. ISBN 978-0-8117-0548-6. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017.
- Spicer, Dorothy Gladys (1973). Festivals of Western Europe. Library of Alexandria. ISBN 978-1-4655-7999-7. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017.
- "Güdeldienstag". Duden. Archived from the original on 23 February 2016. Retrieved 9 February 2016.
- American Heritage Dictionary
- "History of Venice Carnival". Oltrex. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- "This is what people eat on Shrove Tuesday around the world". Metro. 26 February 2016. Archived from the original on 27 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- "Malasada Day". Leonard's Bakery. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- "Fastelavn celebration". Danish Home of Chicago. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- Complete Estonian: Teach Yourself. Hachette. 2012. p. 118. ISBN 978-1-444-17349-9. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017.
- "Užgavėnės". Lithuanian Music Hall Association. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- "The Shrove Festival (February)". visit Lithuania.com. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
-  Archived 16 February 2015 at the Wayback Machine
- Isalaska, Anita (4 March 2015). "10 Reasons to Visit Slovenia in 2015". CNN. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- Amon, Ildi (27 January 2015). "Explainer: Farsang celebrations in Hungary". welovebudapest.com. Archived from the original on 16 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- "The Fasting Rule of the Orthodox Church". www.abbamoses.com. Archived from the original on 8 August 2017.
- "Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage". Archived from the original on 8 March 2011. Retrieved 8 March 2011.
- "Its Shrove Tuesday and Pancake Day". Cape Breton Post. Archived from the original on 5 March 2014.
- Walker, Katie (7 March 2011). "Shrove Tuesday inspires unique church traditions". Daily American. Retrieved 4 January 2016.
Many local churches will celebrate Shrove Tuesday tomorrow, a day of feasting commonly known as “pancake day.” Shrove Tuesday is typically observed by Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist and Catholic denominations, but each church celebrates the day in its own, unique way. The Rev. Lenny Anderson of the St. Francis-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church in Somerset said the primary focus of Shrove Tuesday is to prepare for Lent, the period of the liturgical year leading up to Easter.
- Kiefer, James. Shrove Tuesday. Rowan University.
- Kelvey, Jon (13 February 2018). "Strawbridge United Methodist keeps Shrove Tuesday pancake tradition". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved 25 February 2020.
- "Prayer for Lenten Sacrifice". Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield–Cape Girardeau. Retrieved 24 February 2020.
- "Shrove Tuesday". The Times-Reporter. 18 February 2020. Retrieved 4 April 2020.
- Polley, Martin (2013). The British Olympics: Britain's Olympic Heritage 1612–2012. English Heritage. p. 31. ISBN 978-1-848-02226-3.
- "Hundreds gather for Alnwick Shrovetide game". BBC News. 17 February 2015. Archived from the original on 12 December 2016. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- "Ashbourne Shrovetide Football: Up'Ards take honours on first day". BBC News. 9 February 2016. Archived from the original on 19 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- "Dive for cover – it's the Atherstone Ball Game!". BBC News. Archived from the original on 7 November 2015. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- "Shrove Tuesday events". The Daily Telegraph. 3 March 2014. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- "Cooks Guide". Cooks Guide. Archived from the original on 4 April 2014. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
- "The origin of pancake racing". Bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 5 March 2014. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
- "Olney Pancake Race". ukstudentlife.com. Archived from the original on 29 July 2015. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
- Tony Collins; John Martin; Wray Vamplew, eds. (2005). Encyclopedia of Traditional British Rural Sports. Psychology Press. p. 202. ISBN 978-0-415-35224-6. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017.
- "Liberal wins 60th Int'l Pancake race". United Press International (UPI). Archived from the original on 22 October 2012. Retrieved 30 April 2011.
- "Welcome to Our Village". North Somercoates Parish Council. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- "MPs had a pancake race and it got a bit rowdy". Metro. 9 February 2016. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- "Skipping Day 2015". Scarborough.uk. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- (7 February 2008), "Pancake traditions in village" Archived 28 August 2008 at the Wayback Machine, Longridge News, accessed 16 June 2010
- "Lent Buns (Semlor)". swedishfood.com. Archived from the original on 28 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- Laskiainen, Finnish-American Cultural Activities.
- "Maslenitsa". advantour.com. Archived from the original on 5 February 2017. Retrieved 27 February 2017.
- "Mardi Gras Dates". Nutrias.org. 30 January 2009. Archived from the original on 12 February 2015. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
- Worldwide Pancake Recipes: A collection of recipes from different countries