We are a small Episcopal Church on the banks of the Rappahannock in Port Royal, Virginia. We acknowledge that we gather on the traditional land of the first people of Port Royal, the Nandtaughtacund, who are still here, and we honor with gratitude the land itself and the life of the Rappahannock Tribe. Our mission statement is to do God’s Will in all that we do.

Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2024, Pancake supper, 5pm-6:30pm Parish House

During the week before Lent, sometimes called Shrovetide in English, Christians were expected to go to confession in preparation for the penitential season of turning to God.  

Shrove Tuesday was the last day before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday, and noted in histories dating back to 1000 AD. The word shrove is the past tense of shrive, which means to confess. In the Middle Ages, this day was a time for people to confess their sins and ask forgiveness for them. This allowed Christians to enter into the season of Lent and prepare for Easter with a clean spirit.

It is also a day for frolicking – several places schedule pancake races. (We had one in 2011.) They race down streets carrying a frying pan with a cooked pancake in it and flipping it as you race.

Other names for this day include Carnival (farewell to meat) and Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday of the French tradition). Ironically, masks play an important role in many celebrations of Carnival around the world. What a shame that we can’t gather in person in our masks for a real Carnival celebration!

It is believed that Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday started in 1445 in Olney. Olney is in Buckinghamshire, England. A lady was getting carried away with making pancakes when she heard the church bells for the Shrove Tuesday mass. She was late! The lady ran to the church with all of her pancakes and that’s where the pancake tradition started.

To shrive someone, in old-fashioned English (he shrives, he shrove, he has shriven OR he shrives, he shrived, he has shrived), is to hear his acknowledgment of his sins, to assure him of God’s forgiveness,and to give him appropriate spiritual advice. The term survives today in ordinary usage in the expression “short shrift”. To give someone short shrift is to pay very little attention to his excuses or problems. The longer expression is, “to give him short shrift and a long rope,” which formerly meant to hang a criminal with a minimum of delay.

Shrove Tuesday was the day for consuming dairy products. By giving up dairy products, people marked Jesus’ 40 days and nights in the wilderness .This custom is a remnant of an earlier tradition in which people prepared for the Lenten fast by using up food in their homes that they would not be eating during the season of Lent. These ingredients were made into pancakes, a meal which came to symbolize preparation for the discipline of Lent. It is exactly 47 days before Easter

For more information on Shrove and Shrove Tuesday, see this link

An article about Scottish Shrove Tuesday maintains this may have faded out in the mid-eighteenth century, at least in Scotland.)