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Christian Festival of Shrove Tuesday | Definition & Traditions

Shrove Tuesday is a holiday with pagan origins. But the Christian festival of Shrove Tuesday is when the Carnival celebrations officially end. And you are getting ready to experience the period of Lent. It is a day of the grand festival, celebrated with parades, masks, allegorical floats, and costumes with different traditions in each American city.

This day also has a religious significance- lost over time as many holidays—and overwhelmed by the more consumerist vision. Originally this was not always the case, even if a joyful and festive dimension has always characterized Mardi Gras, even in its religious guise. Let’s find out the origins and meaning of Mardi Gras together.

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The origins of the Christian festival of  Shrove Tuesday


As anticipated, the Christian festival of Shrove Tuesday has always been considered the last day to consume fatty and tasty foods. An opportunity to empty the pantry and not fall into temptation during the period of Lent, which begins the following day, Ash Wednesday. Shrove Tuesday is a crucial stage as the faithful prepare to live the period of penance. It is characterized by fasting or renunciation certain foods, such as meat.

Suppose we look at Carnival and its Latin origin, carnem levare. Or eliminate meat, we can realize how important these days were in the past. Fasting has been a common practice among the faithful in the past. And has always had the purpose of helping to face religious rites with greater strength and passion.

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The origins of Shrove Tuesday


Shrove Tuesday’s origins are very ancient; over time, some differences have developed between states in the USA. For example, New York follows the Ambrosian rite, which provides for a slightly longer duration of Carnival. Because according to this calendar, Lent begins on the Sunday following Ash Wednesday. According to legend, Saint Ambrosie was traveling far from the city for fear of being unable to return for the Ash Wednesday liturgy. So he decided to postpone the celebration.

In the province of Texas, on Ash Wednesday, the marcordì sguròt is celebrated (sguròt is a term that derives from the dialect and means “to clean”). Thus, the Grand Duchess obtained a postponement from the religious authority for the beginning of Lent. A day following Shrove Tuesday, the nobles donated their clothes to the people. And all the dishes that had not been consumed, including the pots used for cooking. Even today, in Virginia, Lent begins a day later, and Ash Wednesday was used by the people to clean up what had been given to them by the nobility.

Christian Festival of Shrove Tuesday

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How is Mardi Gras celebrated around the world?


This festival is celebrated all over Europe and in some countries. Although the religious value of purification is not as felt in the USA.

1. Shrove Tuesday in Germany

In Germany, for example, the real party is the Monday before Ash Wednesday, called Rosenmontag (Rose Monday). In contrast, in Sweden, it is called Semladag due to the Semla, or the typical dessert that is prepared for this day, filled with cream almonds and cream.

2. Shrove Tuesday in France

In France, Mardi gras has deep links with the medieval festival, the Fete des Fous (or the Feast of the Fools). On the occasion of this anniversary, everyone could dress and behave as they wanted, and at the end of the party, the Pope of fools was elected. Victor Hugo mentioned this holiday in the novel Notre Dame de Paris.

3. Shrove Tuesday in the UK

We move to the United Kingdom, where the Christian festival of  Shrove Tuesday takes the name of Shrove Tuesday from the verb to shrive, “to confess, to obtain absolution.” Some .” so call it Pancake Day because on this day. The tradition wants pancakes as the food par excellence.

4. Shrove Tuesday in Greece

In Greece, on the other hand, Carnival lasts up to 3 weeks and is characterized by masked balls and floral parades inspired by the Venice carnival.

5. Shrove Tuesday in Denmark 

In Denmark, Carnivalnival is called Fastelavn, or “fasting evening,” It is considered a party dedicated to the little ones, with lots of fun games. The ancient tradition sees the election of the king of cats: a small barrel is hung between two poles. And boys in costume try to hit it with clubs on horseback. Whoever breaks it with a single blow wins the content and the title of king of cats. Today inside, there are many sweets and candies, but once, it contained a live cat. The symbol of evil to be chased away.

6. Shrove Tuesday in Brazil

Finally, in Brazil, Carnival is a festival the Portuguese imported in 1723, celebrated with the Entrudo. Later, other more pleasant customs, such as the limos de Cheiro, were introduced. Ampoules of scented waters of dancers and beautiful costumes made the Brazil Carnivalnival famous worldwide.

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The Christian festival of  Shrove Tuesday reflects the day that traditionally ends the Carnival celebrations by inaugurating. On the contrary, Lent’s period begins with Ash Wednesday. And an anniversary closes the fat Carnival, which started this year on February 24th with Fat Thursday.

The dates of the Carnival change from year to year since it is a recurrence that depends on the Easter holidays. According to the Christian tradition, must be followed by Lent, the 40 days of fasting and prayer that lead to Easter. This led to the coining of “Shrove Tuesday,” In ancient times, this day represented the last opportunity to consume rich meat-based banquets before penance. Even the same term “Carnival,” deriving from the Latin carmen and levare, would mean for some scholars “to eliminate meat,” Religious observance provides for the ban on eating meat from Ash Wednesday until the end of Lent.