The season of Lent in the church’s calendar is about preparing — for Easter.
We “give up something for Lent” because it makes us begin to understand what God gave up with the death of his son, Jesus, at that first Easter.
Shrove Tuesday / Pancake Day / Mardi Gras
We clear out the house, in the way that preparations were made by clearing the houses of ‘leaven’ (yeast) on “Pancake Day”.
Shrove Tuesday [4 March 2014], a moveable feast, is determined by Easter. The expression “Shrove Tuesday” comes from the word shrive, meaning “confess”. Shrove Tuesday is observed by many Christians, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Roman Catholics, Methodists and Uniting Church, who “make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs they need to repent, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they especially need to ask God’s help in dealing with.”
Being the last day before the penitential season of Lent, related popular practices, such as indulging in food that one sacrifices for the upcoming forty days, are associated with Shrove Tuesday celebrations, before commencing the fasting and religious obligations associated with Lent. The term Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday,” referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday.
We think of ashes at Ash Wednesday [5 March 2014] for that reason.
The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, penance, repentance of sins, almsgiving, atonement and self-denial. Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the tradition and events of the New Testament beginning on Friday of Sorrows, further climaxing on Jesus’ crucifixion on Good Friday [18 April 2014], which ultimately culminates in the joyful celebration on Easter Sunday [20 April 2014] of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.