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Mardi Gras explained | Religion

At this time of year, churches begin to offer a Mardi Gras meal: usually a pancake breakfast or supper, hence the day’s other name, Pancake Tuesday.

Many may recognize the most common name for the day: Fat Tuesday. If that still doesn’t ring a bell, almost everyone has heard of Mardi Gras, which literally translates from French to Fat Tuesday.

Shrove Tuesday is the eve of Ash Wednesday which marks the start of the Lenten season in the Christian calendar. Lent being the 40 days, less Sundays, before Easter and a time which is meant to be spent preparing for the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ through fasting, prayer and time devoted to the worship of God .

But where does the word shrove come from and what do pancakes have to do with Lent, Easter, resurrections or even a crazy party in New Orleans?

Participants enjoy a pancake meal in previous years.

The word shrive is the past tense of the word shrive, a word that peaked in the mid-1800s but most certainly fell into disuse by 2022. Literally, shrive was to confess one’s sins and be absolved of one’s shortcomings. It was a time when people asked forgiveness for the things they had done against God and promised to change their ways and habits as they entered into Lent. Lent was a time to fast from anything unnecessary. For example, giving up chocolate, drinks, alcohol, sweets, social networks or even reality TV.

The practice of eating pancakes was used so as not to waste things that had to be given up for Lent; for example eggs, milk, butter or fat, etc. These luxuries were eaten simply by adding flour and making pancakes. The idea of ​​eating fatty foods is what gave us the name Mardi Gras and so the tradition continues in many of our churches today.

While many will not be fasting during the Lenten season, they are being asked to devote more time to God in prayer life, worship time and especially service to others.

Remember that “when you did it to the least of them, you did it to me”. – Jesus