Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ask the pastor

What does the word shrove mean, and why are pancakes served on Shrove Tuesday?

The word shrove comes from another related word, shrive, which means to confess one’s sins and receive absolution or to hear
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confession of sins and give absolution. Dating back at least to the Middle Ages, Shrove Tuesday confession and absolution prepared the faithful for the season of Lent, which begins the next day, on Ash Wednesday. Martin Luther however in his Small Catechism, exhorts the baptized to drown the sinful Adam and Eve in us by a daily sorrow and repentance, in order that the new person may rise up, cleansed and righteous.

The serving of pancakes on Shrove Tuesday also most likely dates back to medieval times; some even refer to it as Pancake Tuesday. The practice of serving and eating pancakes is related to dietary restrictions and fasting during the Lenten season. Diary products and fat foods were all gathered up and prepared to consume on Shrove Tuesday to clean the household of these foods for Lent. In some traditions, Shrove Tuesday then became the last day to indulge in worldly carnal pleasures prior to the austerity of Lent—hence the celebration of Mardi Gras carnivals, parades and parties. 

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