Feb 11, 2021

#VirtualShrove - An Invitation

One of the best things about the Episcopal Church is the annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake

Supper. Call it what you will -- Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday -- but in parish halls across the land, the day before Lent kicks off is all about the pancakes.

At the parish I serve, St. John's in Hingham, Massachusetts, it's one of the great highlights of the year with fabulous food, an intergenerational crowd, pancake races, and the ritual burning of the palms from last year's Palm Sunday service, which we use to make ashes for the next day's Ash Wednesday liturgies.

But what you do when there's a pandemic and your community can't gather for the annual tradition? 

We actually have experience with this because in 2016, amid the infamous Snowmageddon, we had to hold a Virtual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper due to the INSANE amount of snow (plus a burst pipe to add to the fun). 

Just as we did then, we encourage you to join in your own feast by...eating pancakes on Tuesday!

Whether it's for breakfast, lunch, or dinner (or all three!), eat pancakes and then post pictures of your feast to social media with the hashtag #VirtualShrove. Whether you're eating pancakes alone or with your family, in a blinged out Mardi Gras mask or around a fire pit, why not show the world you're preparing for Lent?

Oh, and if you're curious as to why it's called Shrove Tuesday? Here's the deal:

The day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, is known as Shrove Tuesday. To shrive someone, in old-fashioned English (he shrives, he shrove, he has shriven), is to hear an acknowledgement of sins, assure the person of God's forgiveness, and to offer 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 someone's excuses or problems. The longer expression is, "to give short shrift and a long rope," which formerly meant to hang a criminal with a minimum of delay. 

Shrove Tuesday is also called Fat Tuesday (in French, Mardi Gras) because on that day a thrifty housewife would use up the fats that she had kept around for cooking (the can of bacon drippings for instance). Fatty foods would not be eaten during the penitential season of Lent. Since pancakes were a standard way of using up fat, this day became associated with them. Which is why, of course, so many parishes hold Shrove Tuesday pancake suppers. So this last day before Lent has become the 'feast' to prepare for the time of 'famine' in the desert. 

May your pancakes be fluffy and your preparations, despite the circumstances, joyful. Stay safe out there, friends.

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