Pancakes and Shrove Tuesday?

What's the connection with Shrove Tuesday and pancakes and what about 'mardi gras'

According to Wikipedia, "The tradition of marking the start of Lent has been documented for centuries. Ælfric of Eynsham‘s Ecclesiastical Institutes from around 1000 AD states: 'In the week immediately before Lent everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive him as he then may hear by his deeds what he is to do [in the way of penance].'

"By the time of the late Middle Ages, the celebration of Shrovetide lasted until the start of Lent. It was traditional in many societies to eat pancakes or other foods made with the butter, eggs and fat that would be given up during the Lenten season. The specific custom of British Christians eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday dates to the 16th century. Along with its emphasis on feasting, another theme of Shrove Tuesday involves Christians repenting of their sins in preparation to begin the season of Lent in the Christian calendar.

"In many Christian parish churches, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, a popular Shrove Tuesday tradition is the ringing of the church bells (on this day, the toll is known as the Shriving Bell) 'to call the faithful to confession before the solemn season of Lent' and for people 'to begin frying their pancakes'."

Father Bosco Peters, of the Church of New Zealand, also provides additional information in his brief article about Shrove Tuesday with liturgical resources for that day:

In French this is Mardi Gras – “fat Tuesday” – the feasting before Lenten fasting. A time of “carnival” [The derivation of the word “carnival” is uncertain. Possibly it originates in the Latin carne vale, meaning “to farewell meat” or even “to say goodbye to the flesh”. Others posit that its origin lies in the Italian carne levare, meaning “to remove meat”. The Oxford English Dictionary has that “Carnival” is derived from Latin carnem levare (removal of the meat) or carnem laxare (leaving the meat).]

In Northern Springtime, I presume that, in order to have chicks etc. one must leave the eggs with the hen to hatch. One stops eating the eggs during this time – Lent. And can start eating them  at Easter time – the origin of Easter eggs. In the quaint manner of liturgical developments, not eating eggs during Lent means one gets rid of all the eggs before Lent! Hence, the development of Pancake Tuesday – of using up all our eggs by eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. Lent is a 40-day season (not counting Sundays) marked by repentance, fasting, reflection, and ultimately celebration.

The 40-day period represents Christ’s time of temptation in the wilderness, where he fasted and where Satan tempted him. Lent asks believers to set aside a time each year for similar fasting, marking an intentional season of focus on Christ’s life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection.


  1. Olive Walduck on 6 March 2019 at 9:44 AM

    Rev. Glenn,
    It was great to see our community coming together sharing Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner.
    Thanks to all our volunteers we had a busy great evening.
    Congrats on the Photos as usual.

    • Father Glenn on 6 March 2019 at 4:43 PM

      Hi Olive,

      Thanks to each and everyone for their diligent work last evening. 70 local folks and some from Peterborough and area attened the dinner. I hope this was a good stepping off point into our journey into Lent.


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