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The Editor Speaks: Shrove Tuesday

Today (Tue 28) is Shrove Tuesday, also known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras in French

It is the day before the Lenten Season of 40 days and 40 nights begins and traditionally it is the day you eat as much as you can because you are supposed to almost starve yourself for the next 40!

The name ‘shrove’ is derived from the word “shrive”, meaning to hear someone’s acknowledgement of their sins, to assure him or her of God’s forgiveness,and to give appropriate spiritual advice. The term survives today in ordinary usage in the expression “short shrift”. To give someone short shrift is to pay very little attention to his excuses or problems. The longer expression is, “to give him short shrift and a long rope,” which formerly meant to hang a criminal with a minimum of delay.

Shrovetide is primarily religious and aligns with Fastnacht (the eve of the fast) although in contemporary society may be more associated with Pancake Day, Carnival (meaning without meat) and Fasching (etymologisch leitet sich das Wort vom “Fastenschank” her, also dem letzten Ausschank (alkoholischer Getränke) vor der damals noch strengen Fastenzeit). Shrove Tuesday is also called Fat Tuesday (in French, Mardi=Tuesday; gras=fat, as in “pate de foie gras”, because on that day a thrifty housewife uses up the fats that she has kept around for cooking, but that she will not be using during Lent. Since pancakes are a standard way of using up fat.

At my church, St George’s Anglican, we are having a Thanksgiving Feast this evening (commencing at 7pm) where the parishioners are bringing in food and drinks and the various church groups are also performing.

Whether the English tradition of very fatty pancakes are on the menu I haven’t yet seen.

Sugared, fatty, and meant to be consumed in copious quantities, the fried ribbons of dough that make up pancakes aret ypically eaten to celebrate the pre-Lenten carnival season . They also include the Italian galani, cenci, bugie, and chiacchiere, and the Polish and Hungarian chruschiki. All descend from frictilia, sweets fried in lard used to celebrate festivals in ancient Roman times.

Main source above:

The Mardi Gras festival with parades on this day, especially in New Orleans USA and the Brazilian Carnival in Rio, refers to the carnival of events that take place beginning on Epiphany (Three Kings Day) until the start of Lent.

It is exactly the same festival as Shrove Tuesday. The only difference is the celebration. Instead of just eating there is a carnival to go along with it.

The Brazilian Carnival in Rio is the biggest in the world where two million people pack on to the streets to sing and dance.

The tradition dates back to 1723 and Brazil welcomes 70 per cent of its tourists during the event.

As well as singing and dancing, revellers wear brightly coloured costumes as well as perform the traditional samba.

For a number of years here in the Cayman Islands an organiser held a Mardi Gras singing and dance parade on one of the holiest of days – Ash Wednesday – ignoring not only the meaning of the name and it was the start of Lent.

For all those years I ‘preached’ against it with all my might because of the religious significance and these Islands being steeped and proud of its religious heritage.

I am pleased to say it won’t happen tomorrow (Ash Wednesday). Go to the Agricultural Show instead.!


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