Next Tuesday is Shrove Tuesday and is the day before Lent starts.
It gets its name from the ritual of ‘shriving’ when a person confesses their sins and receives forgiveness. Pancakes became associated with Shrove Tuesday as they were a dish that could use up all the eggs, fats and milk in the house. The need to eat up the fats gave rise to the French name ‘Mardi Gras’ (‘Fat Tuesday’).
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and on this day (next week) churchgoers are sometimes marked on the forehead with a cross of ashes as a sign of penitence. So, Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. There is also a close link between the 40 days of Lent and the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert prior to his public ministry. Often people will give something up for Lent. Perhaps it is also a time to take something on e.g. something helpful to the community.
Lent is the period of time which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar and is traditionally a time of fasting and reflection. Lent is an old English word meaning ‘lengthen’. Lent is observed in spring, when the days begin to get longer.
Next Wednesday is also St Valentine’s Day when cards are sent to those we love. It might seem that there is little to connect Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day. Yet, it is a time when we can remember the love of God for each one of us when he sent Jesus. His love was so great that he did that for you and for me.
Lent can be a time of thanksgiving as we remember that God loved us so much, he sent his Son so that we might have life.
Canon Stephen Bradberry