Shrove Tuesday is the last day before the start of Lent. Traditionally it was a day on which Christians sought to be absolved from their sins, or shriven, in preparation for the solemn fast of Lent. That meant not simply giving up cakes, chocolate or some other individual type of foodstuff, but fasting from meat, eggs and dairy products and sometimes fish, except on Sundays. Consequently on Shrove Tuesday all such items were cleared from the larder and eaten in a spirit of carnival. As dairy products were banned during Lent, it became the custom in Britain to make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, and so the day also became known as Pancake Day. The custom continues today, often accompanied by competitions in pancake tossing, or by pancake races.
For Christians it is still a day on which to make an honest assessment of ourselves, including our failings, in order to submit ourselves to the cleansing and renewing power of the Saviour. It is also a day of celebration, as we prepare to enter the most solemn season of the Christian year.
Today’s prayer is found in the Lent pages of Celtic Daily Prayer and is originally 15th century Irish:
O Son of God, do a miracle for me and change my heart. Thy having taken flesh to redeem me was more difficult than to transform my wickedness. Amen.