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Shrovetide is another name for Carnival. While Carnival offers people an opportunity to eat rich foods and celebrate with abandon before beginning the solemn season of Lent, the old-fashioned English word "Shrovetide" calls to mind the religious duties once associated with this time of year. In past times people sought out priests during the last several days of Carnival in order to make formal confessions of their sins and to receive absolution, or forgiveness. The word "shrove" is an archaic English word meaning "wrote." In medieval times after a priest heard a confession he frequently wrote out a prescription for an appropriate penance, that is, a series of religious rituals that expressed a person's remorse for his or her errors and inspired renewed devotion (for more on penance, see Repentance). After going through this process of making confession, receiving penance, and accepting absolution, a person was said to be "shriven" of their sins. Hence the last several days of Carnival, when priests shrove their parishioners of their sins, were dubbed Shrovetide.

In some places Shrovetide began on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. It ended on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. People called this day Shrove Tuesday because it was the last day to confess one's sins before the start of Lent. In other places Shrovetide lasted longer, beginning on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, sometimes called "Fat Thursday." Shrovetide coincides with the last few days of pre-Lent. This three-week period of preparation for Lent is no longer observed by most Western Christians, that is, Roman Catholics and Protestants, but is still acknowledged by Eastern Christians, that is, those Christians whose traditions of worship originated in eastern Europe, the Middle East, and north Africa.

Further Reading

Blackburn, Bonnie, and Leofranc Holford-Strevens. The Oxford Companion to the Year. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1999. Metford, J. C. J. The Christian Year. London, England: Thames and Hudson, 1991.

Shrovetide (Norway) (Fastelavn)

Between February 3 and March 9; Sunday before Ash Wednesday
Formerly observed on the Monday before Ash Wednesday, Fastelavn, or Shrove Sunday, is a holiday that Norwegian children anticipate eagerly. They rise at dawn and, armed with fastelavnsris (decorated birch or evergreen branches), they go from room to room and strike with their branches anyone who is still in bed. The children receive a hot cross bun for every victim they spank.
The fastelavnsris can be quite elaborate, often decorated with tinsel and paper streamers or brightly colored paper roses. Sometimes a doll with stiff, full skirts is tied to the topmost branch. The curious custom of switching with branches may be traced to an ancient pagan rite heralding the fruitfulness of spring.
BkFest-1937, p. 249
FestWestEur-1958, p. 151

Celebrated in: Norway

References in periodicals archive ?
It was a first Shrovetide hale for the teenager, playing in his third game, and he revealed he felt "like (Lionel) Messi," the Argentine superstar.
So there were at least four major disturbances in or around the theaters in addition to the numerous lesser incidents she cites and the almost yearly Shrovetide riots.
The historical evidence also shows that after the death of his daughter, Elizabeth Cecil, on January 24, 1597 William Brooke withdrew from the court into mourning at his Blackfriars house and could not have been present for the two Shrovetide performances on February 6 and February 8.
But on February 5 and 6 it hosts the Royal Shrovetide Football Match - the world's oldest, longest, largest and maddest match.
For example, the opening of the ballet at the Shrovetide fair in St.
Mardi Gras, carnival, Shrovetide, Fat Tuesday, Maslenitza - call it what you will.
Veltrusky, "Medieval Drama in Bohemia"; Andrzej Dabrowka, "Polish Saint Plays of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries"; Susan Verdi Webster, "The Descent from the Cross in Sixteenth-Century New Spain"; Francesc Massip, "The Cloud: A Medieval Aerial Device, Its Origins, and Its Use in Spain Today"; Sandra Pietrini, "Medieval Ideas of the Ancient Actor and Roman Theater"; and Leif Sondergaard and Thomas Pettitt, "The Flyting of Yule and Lent: A Medieval Swedish Shrovetide Interlude.
But down in Ashbourne in Derbyshire it's the day when they indulge in one hell of a footie match that revels in the grandiose title of Royal Shrovetide Football.
The piece is full of the folk colours of the Shrovetide fair in St Petersburg, with musical boxes and hurdy gurdys helping to tell the sad tale of the puppet Petrushka.