Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Shrove Tuesday

When I was a kid, my Mom always called the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday "Shrove Tuesday." But I didn't really understand the name. I used ask myself rhetorically, "What's a 'shrove'?" It's quite possible that my mom once explained it to me. If so, it must not have made sense to me because it just didn't stick. The name "Fat Tuesday" made sense because one eats so much that one kind of gets fat. Later, when I started studying Italian, I came to understand that the French "Mardi gras" is simply the same as the English "Fat Tuesday." But I never really gave the meaning of "Shrove Tuesday" much thought.

All of a sudden at lunch today, one of the priests in my community started talking about the word "shrove" in relationship to "Shrove Tuesday." He explained to me today that "shrove" is the past of the English verb "to shrive," which means to strip in the sense of being stripped of one's sins. He also explained to me that it was customary to go to confession on the Monday or Tuesday before Lent, which of course are called Shrove Monday and Shrove Tuesday. Looking it up on-line, I even came to find out that the period of time before Ash Wednesday is called "shrovetide."

So, now a light bulb has gone on, and I finally know about this Anglo-Catholic tradition. I think it's a beautiful way to prepare for Lent, and I think I'll try to follow it now in the future.

Besides that, now I can finally say I know what a "shrove" is!

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