Shrove Tuesday is a day of feasting. It marks the conclusion of the Epiphany Season. On this day, the Church feasts before she enters into a more solemn and penitential season called Lent, which is referred to as a Season of Confession.
Shrove Tuesday is celebrated with a pancake dinner, which is accompanied by eggs and syrup (bacon can be added).
This day provides the Church an opportunity to celebrate once again the abundance of the Gospel in our lives and in the world. The glory of the Epiphany season is that Jesus has given us life and life more abundantly (Jn.10:10). Following the rich feasting tradition of our Hebrew forefathers, the English speaking Church has broadly practiced Shrove Tuesday for over 800 years.
What’s the Importance of this day?
As a tradition of the Church, and not an explicit teaching in the Bible, the individual or churches are not bound by such traditions. However, if churches do practice this, it is important for members to join in this festive occasion. It provides the Church another healthy excuse to fellowship and form greater bonds through a delightful and bountiful meal.
On the day before we enter into the Lenten Story where Jesus journeys to the cross, Christians everywhere in the English speaking world will prepare rightly by celebrating God’s gifts to us, so that we can rightly meditate, fast, pray, confess and repent by remembering the sufferings of Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2).
What if my Church does not do Shrove Tuesday?
Assuming the congregation is silent on the issue and has not taken any strong constitutional or theological position on the matter, then as a family you are also free to celebrate Shrove Tuesday. You may also want to invite friends over to enjoy a pancake dinner.
Traditionally, Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the 40 days of Lent (Sundays excluded from this number). Whether your Church has an Ash Wednesday service or not, Shrove Tuesday is still valid as a way of celebrating the Christ who has given us all things, including His own body for our sakes (I Pet. 2:24).
Shrove comes from the word shrive meaning to confess. As we celebrate this evening, let us not forget that the Christian life is, as Luther stated, a “life of daily repentance.” Confession is not just reserved for Lent, but it is for all seasons. But on this Lenten Season we receive a particular reminder in our lessons that a repentant heart is a clean heart before God.