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Mar 04
Shrove Tuesday: From Pancakes to Prayer

​Have a craving for pancakes or something sweet? Hurry. You may be running out of time.

Catholics and people in the Christian tradition will soon enter into the season of Lent – a time of prayer, fasting and almsgiving in anticipation of the great celebration of Easter.

For some parishes and groups from across the Archdiocese of Toronto, they will be marking the change in liturgical season and the start of Ash Wednesday with pancakes, sugar and other sweet items.

Traditionally, Shrove Tuesday is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday – the official start of the Lenten season. Throughout the years, many people have asked about the significance and origin of Shrove Tuesday.


The word Shrove is derived from the English word "Shriven," which means to seek repentance and forgiveness for the actions that we have committed, encouraging people to go to reconciliation. In countries throughout the world, Shrove Tuesday celebrations can look quite different.

In North America, particularly New Orleans, Louisiana or other cities, revellers have come to celebrate Shrove Tuesday as 'Mardi Gras' – translated from French which means 'Fat Tuesday.' People can be seen dancing, singing and most commonly, eating, ahead of a 40-day period of prayer and fasting. Shrove Tuesday was also a time for many people to use up all the supplies that they have, in preparation for a season of fasting. That included eggs, flour, sugar, cream and anything else considered decadent.

Throughout the Archdiocese of Toronto, parishes celebrated the lead up to Lent with Shrove Tuesday celebrations of their own - including both Holy Rosary and St. Edward the Confessor Parishes (Central), Precious Blood (Eastern) and St. Justin Martyr (Northern).

For Arnold Lee Wah of Markham, Ont., Shrove Tuesday is one celebration he doesn't pass up.

"I look forward to it each year," Lee Wah said. "It's an opportunity to think about the coming Lenten season and to celebrate our beliefs and traditions as a community of faith, while nourishing our souls and tummies."

Lee Wah is a fourth-degree member of the Knights of Columbus. His council helped to serve up pancakes at his parish in Markham, Ont.

At Precious Blood Parish in Scarborough, Youth Minister Chico Nuguid was busy serving up plenty of sugar and fatty pancakes to his parishioners and families, in anticipation of the start of Lent. He believes that the celebration of Shrove Tuesday is a teaching moment for all in and out of the Church.

"I really appreciate how something as simple as pancakes can bring the parish family together in fellowship and service," Nuguid said.

"It allows us the opportunity to step back and think about the spiritual journey we are about to begin."


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