She doesn’t know she’s prompted a blog-post, but this is a comment written yesterday by a very nice, very cheerful person. “I’m glad I’m not religious and can enjoy pancakes tomorrow as well if I choose to!” It made me think that one thing I hate is the way history and tradition have got mixed up with Christianity.
I’m in the UK and I don’t think Shrove Tuesday happens in many other countries, so let me explain my understanding of it. With Lent beginning on Ash Wednesday, the season of preparation for Easter and identifying with Jesus in His suffering, traditionally, Shrove Tuesday was when you made pancakes to use up all your left-overs so there was no more rich, luxurious food in the house. Shriven (Shrove) is a word that has to do with confessing your sins and being stripped of them.
But are pancakes a sin? Erm, no. I enjoy pancakes, and I’m happy to eat them all year, not just on a Tuesday nearly 7 weeks before Easter.
I don’t know whether you’re a Christian who sincerely observes Lent. Maybe you choose to give up something important to you as a way of honouring Jesus’ suffering. If you do, that’s lovely. Surely what’s more important though is to give up anything that would distance us from God (maybe anger, or complaining), and that can be an all-year-round thing – not just for 40 days in the run-up to Easter.
For the first time this year, I’m doing something meaningful for Lent. Along-with a group of women on Facebook, I’m studying a book with the very clever title “Holey, Wholly, Holy”. You can join us if you like.
I really hope that you too have a meaningful Lent … pancakes or no pancakes!