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Fat Tuesday

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:

The Christian religion has from the earliest days kept times of feasts and fasts. Beginning tomorrow, in the Western Church, is the great fast of Lent ending in the Great Vigil and the Feast of the Resurrection.

Today is not a Church feast day, but rather the last day before Holy Lent. It is known as Mardi Gras in France and New Orleans and Fashings in Germany. In the Anglican tradition today is known as Shrove Tuesday.

The word shrove comes from shrive, to make confession. Shrove Tuesday has come to mean something quite different today. It is a time when the Anglicans eat lots of pancakes (I have been invited to an annual pancake dinner this evening). You see, during lent the people gave up dairy products, eggs, and meats. This has been going on since the earliest days, and councils established canons governing the observance of Lent (see below) that the Sabbath (Saturday) and Lord’s Day (Sunday) should not be days of fasting in the great Lent, but the entire period of Lent should be days of abstinence from these foods. In England the people would clean out their cupboards of these food items, mix them up as pancakes, and consume them before the Lent began.

So eat hardy today for the morrow brings the Great Fast.

THE CANONS OF THE COUNCIL IN TRULLO; (which were incorporated into the 7th Ecumenical Council)


WE have likewise learned that in the regions of Armenia and in other places certain people eat eggs and cheese on the Sabbaths and Lord's days of the holy lent. It seems good therefore that the whole Church of God which is in all the world should follow one rule and keep the fast perfectly, and as they abstain from everything which is killed, so also should they from eggs and cheese, which are the fruit and produce of those animals from which we abstain. But if any shall not observe this law, if they be clerics, let them be deposed; but if laymen, let them be cut off.

Note: During Lent, the fast was not observed on Sabbath or Lord’s Day, but abstinence of these items was observed throughout Lent.

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