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SHROVE TUESDAY FACTSby Gary Reading, Mar 2019
Shrove Tuesday facts
1) Shrove Tuesday is a Christian festival celebrated in many countries across the globe. It falls on the Tuesday before the beginning of Lent – a period of around six weeks leading up to Easter. During Lent, Christians give up luxuries to remember when Jesus went into the desert for 40 days to fast and pray.
2) The exact date of Shrove Tuesday changes from year to year. But one thing stays the same — it’s always 47 days before Easter Sunday. And yes, you guessed it, it’s always on a Tuesday!
3) The name comes from the old word ‘shriving’, which means to listen to someone’s sins and forgive them. In Anglo-Saxon England, Christians would go to church on Shrove Tuesday to confess their sins and clean their soul. In other words, they would be ‘shriven’.
4) In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and Canada, Shrove Tuesday has another name… Pancake Day! Traditionally during Lent, Christians would give up rich, tasty foods such as butter, eggs, sugar and fat (some Christians continue to do so, in fact). Shrove Tuesday was the last chance to eat them – and what better way to do so than with a delicious pancake!
5) Today, people continue to whisk up these yummy treats on Shrove Tuesday — and they add all kinds of tasty toppings, too, such as fruit, honey, chocolate and ice cream! But check this out; pancakes aren’t only for eating during this fab festival — people race with them, too!
6)Pancake races are a super-fun Shrove Tuesday tradition. In this mad-cap activity, people race each other whilst tossing a pancake in a pan. Today, pancake races are often organised to raise money for charity and help those in need. Awesome!
7) Now, the big question — where did this wacky tradition come from? The story goes that it originated way back in 1445, in the town of Olney in Buckinghamshire, England. A woman was so busy making pancakes that she lost track of time. When she heard the church bells ringing for the Shrove Tuesday mass, she ran as fast as she could to make it, and arrived still carrying her pancake in the pan!
8) Pancakes have become such a popular Shrove Tuesday tradition that on this day, a whopping 52 million eggs are used in the UK alone! That’s 22 million more than your average day. Egg-citing stuff!
9) In other countries, Shrove Tuesday has different names. In Germany, for example, it’s called ‘Fastnacht’ (meaning ‘Eve of the Fast’) and in Iceland it’s called ‘Sprengidagur’ (meaning ‘Bursting Day’). In France and some other parts of the world, the festival is called ‘Mardi Gras’, from the French phrase meaning ‘Fat Tuesday’. And for many people, Mardi Gras means party time…
10) Lots of cities around the world celebrate Mardi Gras with vibrant street parties featuring live bands, colourful parades, and elaborate fancy-dress costumes! Some of the world’s largest and most famous Mardi Gras celebrations take place in New Orleans in the USA, Rio de Janeiro in Brazil and Venice in Italy.