So the Catholics invented Carnival and Lent, Mardi Gras and Ash Wednesday, the cycle of excess and fasting, of dissipation and self-abasement. The Anglicans kept half the wheel but got rid of the other half. They even turned Fat Tuesday into Shrove Tuesday, “shrove” being the past tense of “shrive,” which means to obtain absolution for one’s sins through confession and repentance. I thought that’s what Ash Wednesday was for.
Carnival celebrates the last days of eating meat (carne) before lent, so Mardi Gras is traditionally a carnivore’s delight. Shrove Tuesday replaces the pig roast with a pancake supper. Those Anglicans sure know how to party.
I think maybe Shrove Tuesday ought to be celebrated as international WASP day. But let’s not get carried away.