Today is Shrove Tuesday, the day before the church season of Lent.
‘Shrove’ is an old word meaning to have made confession to a priest and received absolution. Other forms are ‘shrive’, ‘shriven’, ‘shriving’ and ‘shrift’.
There is an example of this language in Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, when Juliet uses the excuse of making her confession in order to leave the house and meet Romeo…
NURSE: Have you got leave to go to shrift today?
JULIET: I have.
NURSE: Then hie you hence to Friar Laurence' cell; There stays a husband to make you a wife.
Another commonly used term is ‘Pancake Tuesday’. This relates to the custom of eating up all the ‘indulgent’ foods in the house, such as butter and sugar, in cakes and pancakes, before starting a plainer diet during the forty days of Lent.
Shrove Tuesday is a time to cleanse the house and soul of any frippery, distraction, unwholesomeness and sin before entering the solemn season of Lent.
But enjoy your pancakes first.