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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.
Encyclopedia of Easter, Carnival, and Lent, 1st ed. © Omnigraphics, Inc. 2002

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

Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary, Fourth Edition. © 2010 by Omnigraphics, Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
But let a Royal Shrovetide footie fella, Karl Webster, fill you in.
Mr Hately, 70, joined the shrovetide committee in 1996 and was to be vice chairman at Tuesday's event, which htakes place in the shadows of the town's castle and dates back to the late 1800s.
While all internal and external evidence for the play has directed most scholars to accept the Shrovetide 1471 date as the most compelling possibility, few studies have considered the national events of the period, and the potential repercussions they may have held for local politics and local drama.
As Lancashire finds, the penitential theme of the interlude Youth and its prodigal youthful title character would have been well suited to a Shrovetide occasion and to a household that included Lord Percy's romantic son and heir, Henry, who had been recently called to court.
Christmas and Easter plays, Passion and Morality plays, Shrovetide and Reformation plays experienced a tremendous proliferation during the fifteenth century and often included several hundred actors who performed for days, if not weeks.
PUSH AND SHROVE: The ancient Royal Shrovetide Football game in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, in progress yesterday
Charles carried the match ball down the street as he was lifted up by three burly players before the ancient Royal Shrovetide game in Ashbourne, Derbyshire.
Three men carried Charles at shoulder height as he arrived in Ashbourne,Derbyshire,for the ancient Royal Shrovetide Football game.
It's all part of Scarborough's 200-year-old Shrovetide Festival.
Following the publication of Mumbo Jumbo in 1972, Ishmael Reed proclaimed it "the best mystery novel of the year" (Shrovetide 132).
This edition by Donald Beecher and Mary Wallis provides a parallel text of the 1492 black-letter print and a modernized spelling version, along with critical notes, bibliography, and a translation of an analogous text, the German Shrovetide play Ein spil von Salomon und Markolfo by Hans Folz (c.