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What is Shrove Tuesday?

Shrove Tuesday Definition and Information

two eggs on a table

The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins, has a variety of names, including the popularly known term Mardi Gras, "Fat Tuesday."

The day was sometimes called "Hall Night" or "Hall Tuesday," from the word "hallowed" (holy).

Most people view this Tuesday as a giant party before Lent, and this is because of the popular associations with the name "Mardi Gras." However, the Church also encourages its members to spiritually prepare for Lent by going to confession before Lent begins, which is where "Shrove Tuesday" comes from.

Shrove Tuesday gets its name from an old-fashioned word "shriving," which means confession and absolution. It is a custom to eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday as a way to get rid of oil, eggs, and butter, which were forbidden during the Lenten fast.

Today, the Catholic Church encourages her members to spiritually prepare for Lent, although most have penance services (times for private confession and public penitence) during Lent, and not on Shrove Tuesday.

Interestingly, there were names for the Monday before Ash Wednesday too. Even though they are rarely used today, they are "Hall Monday," "Callop Monday" (named for a food eaten that day), and "Blue Monday" (because the penitential season of Lent is approaching, thus causing possible feelings of depression), symbolized by the color blue. However, another name for that Monday was "Merry Monday," because for some, it was a party day before Lent began.

Updated 02-21-2017


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