Entering the Season of Lent – Shrovetide Begins

Feb 10th

Yesterday was a necessary rest day – I just couldn’t get my brain into writing anything.  Today’s better . . . hopefully everyone else got a well deserved rest also.  It’s Monday again, and though it would be nice if the weekend was a little longer, all in all it was a good one.  Now it’s time to focus on the week ahead, being productive and getting the most out of what comes next.  Getting through Monday will be easier if we have celebrations to entertain us, so what’s on the schedule for today?

Clean Out Your Computer Day –  This one may not be a lot of fun, but it is necessary to do from time to time.   Today’s a day to review and delete old file and files and programs.  As most of us use our computers, we tend to add programs and files to our computers without thinking much about it.  Computers have a pretty good sized storage capacity, and quite honestly we tent to forget what we’ve loaded onto them after some time has passed.  Eventually they clog memory and cause confusion during retrieval and use of other files.  They can also slow down our computers.  At some point someone, probably a computer service person, created this day as a chance for us to remember to cleanup and delete old and unused files.  Get into the spirit of the day and clean out your computer!

Umbrella Day –  The umbrella is one of the world’s most valuable inventions! Really, it is!  Aren’t we glad on rainy days that someone thought of it?  Umbrellas are also good for shading ourselves from the sun.  We can find umbrellas in all sorts of sizes, colors, shapes and designs . . . remember those silly looking ones they had in the 70’s?  I forget what they were called, but they were clear and came down over us like we were under little clear mushrooms.  They looked ridiculous, but they did keep us dry!  Anyway, businesses and organizations use umbrellas for advertising, and there are small umbrellas that fit inside our purses and glove compartments.  There are HUGE golf umbrellas, lawn and beach umbrellas is in honor of one of the world’s most invaluable inventions. On a rainy, day, we are sure glad that someone was smart enough to invent it. It’s also increasingly popular to use umbrellas to shade ourselves from harmful UV radiation, and the heat of the sun.   
Umbrellas come in all sorts of sizes, colors, shapes, and, designs. Businesses and organizations use them for advertising. The smallest umbrellas fit inside a purse or glove compartment. Golf umbrellas are popular sizes – you can actually cover more than one person comfortably with one, and honestly most of them have proven to be very wind resistant.  You can celebrate Umbrella Day a couple of ways . . . if you have one, make sure it is handy, just in case it starts to rain.  If you don’t have one, you could put it on your list to get one.  (I get to celebrate this one today for real!  It’s RAINING!)

Shrovetide – Shrovetide is the three days preceding Ash Wednesday, known as Shrove Sunday, Shrove Monday and Shrove Tuesday.  Shrovetide precedes the beginning of Lent, a 40-day long Easter fast practiced among Catholics and Orthodox Christians. The word Lent is originally an old Teutonic word, which means spring season.  Lent is a time for both spiritual and physical purification and meditation in order to be prepared for the coming feast of Easter.  Traditionally during Lent people would not eat meat and all the things that “come from flesh”, like milk, eggs, cheese, butter and other dairy products.

Vegetables, mushrooms, fruit, honey, bread, vegetable oils (excluding olive oil), nuts, seeds, cereals and grits were permitted.  The Greek traditional fast also forbade fish and other types of seafood.  Slavic traditions permitted them.  Alcohol and other stimulants were also traditionally forbidden. 

In the old days, in country households the last of the meat, eggs and milk products were consumed at Shrovetide. It was the last chance for feasting before the strictness of the fasting period. Shrovetide is a northern European equivalent for the carnival season of southern Europe, which marks the beginning of Lent.  Many Shrovetide and carnival customs of different countries date back to pagan times, to feasts like the ancient Roman feast of Bacchus and the celebrating of the approaching spring, fertility and beginning of new life. Pagan customs were later blended in with the Christian Shrovetide celebration.  Shrove Tuesday,  which ends the Shrovetide was – and still is – a day of celebration with the tradition of eating greasy pancakes or waffles, a tradition common to many European Countries. 
The name Shrovetide comes from the word “shriving”, which means cleansing of all sins – or confessing one’s sins.  After Shrove Tuesday people would go home and have a hearty lunch.  Shrove Tuesday is also known by its French name – Mardi Gras – fatty Tuesday.  Many Shrove Tuesdays are observed in churches around the world with pancake dinners. Fat Tuesday in many places is a day of hedonistic partying, as people throw all inhibitions to the wind before they enter the time of Lent.  Even people without any intentions of observing Lent get into the party mood and go crazy on this day.   Ash Wednesday follows Shrove Tuesday and is the first day of the Lenten fast in the Western Church, and is a day of repentance and amendment. The name of the day signifies the old act of sprinkling ashes on oneself and wearing sackcloth as a means of repenting of one’s sins. Lent ends on Easter Sunday.

I was not raised observing Lent, but I do know that today people tend to choose something to give up – ideally it is something that they feel is a sacrifice and a reminder of all that Christ did for us by giving Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.  The church I used to attend encouraged us to consider observing Lent, and to use this time to really focus on what it means.  Since I had never done this before, we discussed it at home and we did make a decision to observe it.  We gave up evening television for the Lent season, and though to some that may not seem to be a big deal, in this TV oriented world that was a big deal to us and changed our entire routine. We turned it off at a set time every day, and instead had family time playing games, reading together, listening to a sermon online, and just plain talking.  Those nights became something we looked forward to, and less of a sacrifice as they were a blessing.  It is very common for people to give up coffee, soda, chocolate, or something else that is a big piece of their lives.  The most important thing though, is give something that will hurt to give, to remind you better of why it is done, and to teach us something about sacrifice in a very small way.



This Day In History

 1763 – France cedes Canada to England, ending the French and Indian War. 

Food Celebration of the Day

National Cream Cheese Brownie DayWho can resist a swirl? When you can’t choose between two great flavors, these treats offer the best of both worlds.  Here are some suggestions for celebrating this one from the good folks at www.food.com.

Cream Cheese Marbled Brownies
Chocolate Cream Cheese Brownie Cake
Marbled Chocolate Cheesecake
Salty Peanut Cream Cheese Brownies
Marbled Cherry Brownies
Brownie Cheesecake Muffins

As we enter Shrovetide this year, focus our eyes on the WHY of the season, and WHO it surrounds.  Thank You God for giving us Your Own Son, to give His life so we could live.  God bless you everyone.  I’ll see you tomorrow.

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