Pancake day is a day for indulgence. After that comes Lent, which is much more somber.
Shrove Tuesday involves Christians eating up all of the rich foods in their cupboards (for example, making pancakes) to make way for the Lenten season where they fast or give up certain things.
Lent actually starts next week, so if you’re planning on observing it, read more on the meaning of this time in the Christian calendar.
What is the meaning of Lent?
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia:
The real aim of Lent is, above all else, to prepare men for the celebration of the death and Resurrection of Christ. The better the preparation, the more effective the celebration will be.
Basically, the idea is to imitate the struggles Jesus faced when he was in the wilderness for 40 days and had to fast.
For 40 days before Easter Sunday, people try to get penance and forgiveness from their sins, with some people choosing to fast and others trying to give up something they enjoy for the duration of Lent.
The day before Lent, many people celebrate Shrove Tuesday, which involves eating rich foods like pancakes before their time of giving something up.
Then, on Ash Wednesday, Lent starts. A mass is usually held where a cross in ash (which is a sign of repentance in the faith) is marked on a person’s forehead and they are to told ‘remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return’.
Then the fasting or abstaining begins, and doesn’t end until Easter Sunday, when Christians celebrate Christ’s sacrifice for our sins and his resurrection.
Things people commonly give up for Lent
- Eating between meals
- Fizzy drinks
- Using social media
When is Lent this year?
In 2018, Ash Wednesday will fall on Wednesday February 14th. Despite the 40 day fasting rule, it actually is 46 days before Easter, as many Christians take breaks from fasting on Sundays (both for health reasons and due to it being the Sabbath day).
Lent begins then, and will end on Easter Sunday, which this year will fall on Sunday April 1st. There will be a feast and a celebration of Jesus and his resurrection.
Although Lent is a Christian religious observance, many secular people have also decided to give up something during this time.
Some do this for health reasons, while others simply want to test whether they have the willpower to do so.