What is Shrove Tuesday?

Shrove Tuesday Definition and Information

two eggs on a table

The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, when Lent starts, has a variety of names, including the popular term Mardi Gras, meaning "Fat Tuesday."

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

Many people throughout the world view this Tuesday as a giant party before Lent, especially in locations like New Orleans and many parts of South America, and this is because of the popular associations with the name "Mardi Gras." However, the Church encourages its members to spiritually prepare for Lent on this day by going to confession before the Lenten season begins, which is where the concept of "Shrove Tuesday" comes from.

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

Today, the Catholic Church encourages her members to spiritually prepare for Lent, although most parishes 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" or "Collop 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 03-05-2019