“Shrove Tuesday” comes from the word shrive, meaning “absolve.”
The word shrove is a form of the English word shrive, which means to obtain absolution for one’s sins by way of Confession and doing penance. Thus Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the custom for Christians to be “shriven” before the start of Lent.
Shrove Tuesday is exactly 47 days before Easter Sunday, a moveable feast based on the cycles of the moon. The date can be anything between 3 February and 9 March inclusive.
“Shrove Tuesday” was the day in which everyone was expected to go to church to confess their sins and be “shriven” ready for the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. During the period of Lent the devout were expected to practice complete abstinence, including not eating meat, and so frugal housewives, mindful of the waste of perishable foodstuffs if they were not eaten before the Lent fasting commenced, would cook up all the dairy produce and make pancakes – filling and nourishing, to fortify their families for the lean days to come.
by Richard Challoner
The opposition between the World and the Gospel
Consider, first, that the Son of God often declares the world his capital enemy; because light and darkness are not more opposite than the world and the gospel. The world continually recommends what the gospel condemns, and condemns what the gospel recommends. The world is made up of pride, ambition, and vain glory; is a slave to riches and sensual pleasures; and in these it places its whole happiness. The gospel breathes nothing but humility, self-contempt, and the amiable simplicity of little children: it inculcates the necessity of self-denial, of patient suffering, and of being in a disposition at least, to quit all things in order to follow Christ; assuring us, that otherwise there is no heaven for us.
Consider, secondly, that Christianity never had a more dangerous enemy than the world, its bad example, and its fashionable maxims; and never yet suffered half so much from the most cruel persecutions, as it continually suffers from those false brethren, who, in their daily practice and discourse, recommend the spirit of the world, in opposition to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Let us beware of this mortal enemy of our salvation, this torrent of worldly custom, and the maxims of earthly-minded Christians. Consider, thirdly, that the church sets apart this time of Shrove-tide (so strangely perverted by the world) for the exercise of penance and devotion, as a suitable preparation for the solemn fast of Lent. The very name of Shrove-tide, in the ancient English, signifies the time of confession of sins: and our Catholic ancestors were taught to turn to God at this time with their whole hearts, by humble confession and penance. Alas! what a deplorable change has the spirit of the world and irreligion introduced!
Conclude to give ear to the divine oracles: “Love not the world, nor the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him,” (I John, 2: 15.) “The friendship of this world is the enemy of God: whosoever therefore will be a friend of this world, becometh an enemy of God,” (James 4: 4.)