Shrove Tuesday

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the last day of Shrovetide, long observed as a season of merrymaking before Lent.



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Origin of Shrove Tuesday

First recorded in 1490–1500; shrove + Tuesday
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021


What is Shrove Tuesday?

Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday in some Christian traditions.

It is the last day of Shrovetide, the three-day period before the beginning of Lent, which is the season of fasting and penitence that precedes Easter. Shrovetide also includes Shrove Sunday and Shrove Monday.

Shrove Tuesday is sometimes called Pancake Day due to the tradition of eating pancakes on that day.

The day before Ash Wednesday can also be called Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday).

When is Shrove Tuesday?

Shrove Tuesday happens 47 days before Easter Sunday. (Lent is often considered a period of 40 days, but it actually consists of 40 weekdays.) Since Easter Sunday moves every year, Shrove Tuesday can fall between February 3 and March 9.

The date for Shrove Tuesday in 2021 is February 16. Shrove Tuesday 2022 will fall on March 3.

More information and context on Shrove Tuesday

The first records of the term Shrove Tuesday come from the 1490s. Shrove is the past tense of the verb shrive, which means “confess one’s sins, such as to a priest” (it can also mean “to hear confession”).

Shrovetide was once a time that many Christians devoted to confessing their sins before the beginning of Lent. But Lent itself is a time of fasting and abstaining, and Shrovetide and Shrove Tuesday eventually became, for many, a time of indulging before the Lenten fast begins.

Traditionally, fasting for Lent has involved giving up foods like eggs and fats (such as butter). Shrove Tuesday is the last day to use up such foods so they don’t go to waste during Lent, and pancakes are one of the easiest (and most delicious) ways to use these ingredients. That’s why Shrove Tuesday is often called Pancake Day or Pancake Tuesday. 

Shrove Tuesday is commonly used as the name for the day in the U.K. and some other places, but the name Mardi Gras is more common in France and the U.S.

What are some terms that often get used in discussing Shrove Tuesday?

How is Shrove Tuesday discussed in real life?

The name Shrove Tuesday is most commonly used in the U.K. The day is associated with the tradition of eating pancakes and indulging before Lent.


Try using Shrove Tuesday!

True or False?

Shrove Tuesday always falls on the same date.

British Dictionary definitions for Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday


the last day of Shrovetide; Pancake Day
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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