Tuesday 13th February, 7pm
Followed by pancakes in the Vicarage
Canticles – Wood in F (Collegium Regale)
Te lucis ante terminum – Stanford
Shrove Tuesday is the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday which is the first day of Lent. It’s a day of penitence, to clean the soul, and a day of celebration as the last chance to feast before Lent begins. The pancakes themselves are part of an ancient custom with deeply religious roots.
Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the ritual of shriving that many Christians still use as part of their Lenten preparations. In shriving, a person confesses their sins and receives absolution for them from their priest or confessor. This tradition is very old. Over 1000 years ago a monk wrote in the Anglo-Saxon Ecclesiastical Institutes:
In the week immediately before Lent everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive him.
Shrove Tuesday celebrations
Shrove Tuesday is a day of celebration as well as penitence, because it’s the last day before Lent. Lent is a time of abstinence, of giving things up. So Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to indulge yourself, and to use up the foods that aren’t allowed in Lent. Giving up foods: but not wasting them. In the old days there were many foods that observant Christians would not eat during Lent: foods such as meat and fish, fats, eggs, and milky foods. So that no food was wasted, families would have a feast on the shriving Tuesday, and eat up all the foods that wouldn’t last the forty days of Lent without going off.
The need to eat up the fats gave rise to the French name Mardi Gras; meaning fat Tuesday. Pancakes became associated with Shrove Tuesday as they were a dish that could use up all the eggs, fats and milk in the house with just the addition of flour.