What is Fat Tuesday?

The month of February sees the return of Ash Wednesday on 17th February, the beginning of Lent in the church’s year. We will come back to Lent later. I wanted to focus first on Shrove Tuesday, 16th February, better known as pancake day to many people. There is great excitement over cooking pancakes and trying to flip them in the frying pan. There are so many different toppings for the pancakes that have become people’s favourites. This humble dish has become quite exotic! It has its origins in using up the rich food like butter, eggs and sugar before the start of Lent. A reminder from the past, over four hundred years ago, not to waste food but use it carefully. I discovered a new twist on Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, which means Fat Tuesday in French. I have always associated Mardi Gras with carnivals and festivals. I picture people on the street dancing in amazing costumes in a carnival procession. I have discovered that the carnival season starts after Epiphany, the beginning of January and the season ends on Mardi Gras. It is the culmination of the carnival season, the last day before the beginning of Lent. It has become a time for people to have fun and enjoy themselves. It takes celebrating the end of the Christmas season to a new level! I had not made the connection to Shrove Tuesday and getting ready for Lent.

Lent is almost the complete opposite of what we have talked about for Pancake Day and Mardi Gras. It is a more serious and sombre time. Historically people fasted, usually having a simple diet like bread and water. This is the reason why people needed to eat up food on the day before Lent. The idea of fasting is further developed by people giving something up for Lent like chocolate, alcohol and takeaway food, which we call self-denial. There is a sense that if we are able to exercise self-control, these things are not addictions that control us. We are reminded of Jesus fasting for forty days in the desert. There are other things to try to do this Lent. We are encouraged to prepare for Easter by saying sorry and putting things right; by prayer for what is difficult, helping those in need around us and by reading our bibles. I would encourage us all to try and get realigned with God and use this time of getting ready to adjust our lives into God’s way. Focusing on reading our bibles, the Lent course might help you do this. I have decided to do this via Zoom to ensure we can meet whatever the restrictions may be. I was going to restart and finish the course from last Year, looking at the Pilgrim Course, The Lord’s Prayer.

Get ready for Lent, work out what you might give up or take up for Lent. Hopefully what you decide to do should also help others, as well as ourselves, as we ensure that we are prepared for Easter 2021, Sunday 4th April.

Rev. Martin Wood. The Rectory, Church Lane, Cheriton Bishop EX6 6HY 01647 24119 (Tuesday to Sunday) [email protected]