Form III and Shrove Tuesday

Posted: 26th February 2021

A day of preparation.

The solemn season of Lent prepares us all for the Passion and Crucifixion of Christ, the prelude to the joy of Easter.  The day before Lent commences, Shrove Tuesday, is the last day of what traditionally was called “Shrovetide,” the week preceding the beginning of Lent, a time to prepare spiritually for Lent.  To ‘shrive’ meant to hear confessions, a time to repent, confess sins and receive absolution – a time to renew faith.

With the season of Lent starting with Ash Wednesday last week, Mrs McDermott here provides us with some insights from Form IIIA’s research about how Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras/Carnevale is celebrated throughout the world (also known as Pancake Day!).

Giorgia writes, ‘Mardi’ is the French word for Tuesday, and ‘gras’ means fat. In France, the day before Ash Wednesday came to be known as Mardi Gras.  In RE, when learning about Shrove Tuesday, also known as Mardi Gras, (the day before the beginning of Lent, which is Ash Wednesday), I researched how this special event was celebrated around the world. For example, in Venice (Italy), for the carnival (Carnevale), people dress up in colourful costumes and decorated masquerade masks and parade and party in the streets together. Furthermore, the date of the Carnevale changes and Mardi Gras celebrations can last up to three weeks before Ash Wednesday. In addition, in Rio de Janeiro, there are flamboyant excessive celebrations: huge floats, massive costumes and mile-long processions.’


Last year’s Upper I learning about the French celebration of Carnival during a visit to the Andre Malraux school in March 2020

Esinam continues, ‘I found out about Mardi Gras as it is celebrated in Goa. The Goa Carnival festival is all about dancing on the streets, vehicles festooned with flowers and feathers, people’s faces covered with masks (when people wear masks they can get up to mischief and mix with people that are higher up in class than them), and the crowning of King Momo. King Momo or King Momos or King Momus, is considered the king of Carnivals in numerous Latin American festivities, mainly in Brazil and Colombia. Celebrations are concentrated for about two weeks before and through Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday.’

Mylla’s research was as follows, ‘When you hear the words ‘Mardi Gras’ for the first time, you either translate it from French, meaning “Fat Tuesday” or perhaps it makes you think of a carnival. Either way, you’d be right.

Mardi Gras is in fact the Christian feasting period before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. This would explain the French translation of Fat Tuesday which we more commonly celebrate or know as Pancake Day. The thought of the carnival associated with Mardi Gras, however, is also correct and comes from over 300 years ago when the French-Canadian explorer Pierre Le Moyne D’Iberville arrived in Alabama on Fat Tuesday, 1699. He named the location Point du Mardi Gras and threw a little party.

Last year’s Upper I enjoying pancakes during the visit to the Andre Malraux school in March 2020

In later years, people continued to visit the same spot and over the years, huge, grand elaborate carnivals and parties take place to celebrate the day. In fact, the centre of Mardi Gras celebrations has since moved to New Orleans which now claims to host the largest and grandest couple of weeks of carnivals and processions. A sight to be seen, I’m sure!’

Finally, we hear from Lara, ‘Mardi Gras is a celebration thrown on the same day as Shrove Tuesday. However, many Italian cities, especially Venice, celebrate Mardi Gras for over two weeks. Some Mardi Gras celebrations start on the Epiphany (when the three kings visited Jesus in the manger).

People from countries around the world celebrate Mardi Gras as the last day of eating rich sweet foods. Mardi Gras consists of things such as carnivals and parades through cities and towns. People hand out masks on Mardi Gras for people to wear in the carnival so people can get up to mischief for the last day of celebrating without being caught.

The religion in the festival is still there though. People mainly stay out late and eat sweet food because they know that Lent is a solemn time to cut back on sugary food and staying out late.’

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