The Lenten season is anchored in our anticipation of the resurrection. Therefore Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, is always 7 Wednesdays before Easter Sunday (this gives us 46 days — 40 days of prayer & fasting plus 6 Sundays). Ash Wednesday can be as early as February 4th and as late as March 10th. Here are the dates for the next few years...
2017: March 1st
2018: February 14th
2019: March 6th
2020: February 26th
2022: March 2nd
2023: February 22nd
2024: February 14th
2025: March 5th
But there's more!
The day before Ash Wednesday is known as Fat Tuesday or, if you grew up across the pond, Shrove Tuesday.
And it’s a day to INDULGE!
Most people know about Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, but what you may not know is that historically there has been a purpose behind the party, despite the lack of purpose that this day seems to currently possess.
The purpose of this day is to indulge a bit in all the things you are planning on giving up. Eat some extra candy, drink all the coffee you can, watch all the TV your mind can handle and most importantly, party with your friends! (I might add, in a way that doesn’t break any commandments! We are Christians, after all!)
IT’S FAT TUESDAY!
Until a couple of years ago, I had never heard of Shrove Tuesday or its traditions. While I lived in Nashville, however, I was fortunate to be in a community group with a great family from across the pond, and they introduced me to Shrove Tuesday and some of these crazy traditions. Let me show you (watch video now!)
The deal is that traditionally all the families would bring their flour, sweets and other goodies that might not keep over Lent and eat it all! During Lent, they wanted to refrain from foods they enjoyed and that gave them the most pleasure as a way to embrace the season of Lent. It’s my understanding that because the typical things they brought to purge themselves of—butter, flour, sugar, etc.—were mostly the goods to make pancakes, that’s what they made … and that’s what they played!
As you can see in the video above, we practiced some pancake games ourselves. It was such an amazing time of fun and fellowship. I often miss my Nashville friends and community so I always look for some good old fashion fun on Shrove Tuesday to remind me!
Here’s is what I ate for lunch one year, I try to replicate it every year!
Let the Pancake festivas begin!
I would encourage you to start a tradition with your community. Flip some cakes, have a party, do something fun — because Lent is coming.
So yea, INDULGE!
What are you giving up this year?
Eat up, drink up, make it count!
And if you want to get really serious about the countdown to Lent read a bit of Alexander Schmemann's book The Great Lent: Journey to Pascha. In the opening chapters he talks about all the things Eastern Orthodox folks do to get ready for Lent, it's intense! But it's also beautiful how serious they take the season of Lent because it show us how serious they take participating the resurrection of Christ!
PS: Schmemann's book I mentioned is probably the best book I've ever ready on Lent. I read bits of it every year. You should check it out.