Tuesday, February 5

Shrove Tuesday

Oh my gosh, another 'holiday' that has ---gasp--- pagan origins! Today is FAT Tuesday, originally known in the early church days as "Shrove Tuesday". The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the traditional start of the 40-day Lenten period of abstaining from all animal products in preparation for Easter's celebration of Christ's resurrection, Fat Tuesday actually converts from the French language of "Mardi Gras". Under the secular and pagan celebration, this is the last day of Carnival. The most famous celebration of Mardi Gras is in New Orleans.

The practice of eating pastries with loads of health threatening stuff began, shockingly enough, in the Middle Ages by the Christians, who celebrated Lent and had to consume all egg and milk products no later than the day before Ash Wednesday. One of the most famous American experiences of this 'gorging' is the Polish paczki (poon-chez), a ball of lard and filling that expand many a waist size in the population of the country.

In Sweden, this day is marked by eating a pastry called Semla, only seasonally available from New Year until today. Ireland has the Pancake Tuesday, where a pancake almost as thin as the French crepe is sprinkled with caster sugar and lemon juice.

The name Shrove comes from the archaic English verb, to shrive, which means to absolve people of their sins in preparation of Lent. This absolution was given by 'shriveners', priests who would hear the confessions.

Back in the Middle Ages, it was common to 'go wild' during this final day before you had to follow the straight and narrow for forty days. Which is why the traditional celebration in New Orleans along Burbon street and the French quarter is such a immoral and decadent act, keeping with the tradition of "anything goes".

Rather than focusing on the 'traditional' we should focus on the meaning. We should see out every day to have a Shrove Tuesday, being absolved of our sins by the only person capable, Abba Father, through the blood of the lamb, Jesus.

If you are looking for a wonderful devotional regarding the Lenten season, I would refer you to "Words in Red", St. Matthew's Lutheran Church in Walled Lake Michigan's answer to preparing for the Big event of Easter during this time. www.st-matthew.com is the website.

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