Mardi Gras and Pancakes

A Facebook Q&A between me and my Brother-in-Law:

  • Mike Bryant
    Mike Bryant

    Hi. This is a Canadian and Anglican question. A fellow Canadian asked at a meeting if there were plans for Shrove Tuesday. I recognized the term but did not know what to was. Clearly no one here is familiar with the term. Is it Canadian or Anglican or Both? Is it the same as Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras?

  • Bruce Bryant-Scott
    Bruce Bryant-Scott

    Yes, it is the same. Shrove Tuesday is the day on which in pre-reformation England (i.e. before 1549) confessions were made by the faithful in preparation for Lent – and thus they were “shriven”.

    Part of traditional Lenten discipline is to give up meat or butter. A by-product of cooking meat is grease or oil, and so the tradition arose of using up the last of the oil on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
    Hence, Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. In some countries it was the last day to eat meat before Easter, so “Carnival.” In Germany the day was simply known as “Fastnach” or “Fasting night”.
    Latin Americans in Rio have wild Carnival parades, folks in New Orleans and Continental Europe go crazy with Mardi Gras or Fastnach, wearing costumes, singing wildly, drinking, and so forth.
    English affiliated people, like Anglicans . . . well, they eat pancakes, supposedly using up the oil or butter before Lent. In many places in England there are pancake races.

    Scots don’t celebrate Shrove Tuesday with pancakes because, being dour Presbyterians (Calvinists) they don’t observe Lent or Easter or Christmas – well, they do now, but historically they did not.

  • Bruce Bryant-Scott

    Bruce Bryant-Scott
  • Here’s a video of the end of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. It comes as a great shock to many tourists that Mardi Gras stops quite suddenly at 12:00 midnight with the police clearing the streets and telling people to go home.

About Bruce Bryant-Scott

Canadian. Husband. Father. Christian. Recovering Settler. A priest of the Church of England, Diocese in Europe, on the island of Crete in Greece. More about me at
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