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We have something unusual happening this year; Easter is falling on April 24th, worldwide.  This is unusual, as there are two different Christian calendars; that of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches, and their Easters usually do not line up.  However, they do this year, thanks to the solar and lunar calendars relative positions.

As Easter is preceded by 40 days of Lent, Monday, March 7th is the beginning of the preparations for the Lenten season. Most Americans know of Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, which will be Tuesday, March 8th, but they are not as well acquainted, in most parts of the country, with the Monday that kicks off Lenten tradition around the world.

In English, to shrive is to get absolution with Confession and doing penance for the confessed sins. The two days leading up to Ash Wednesday are known as Shrove Monday and Tuesday, or Shrovetide. Shrovetide is the time of preparing the soul for Lent.

In Britain, there is Collop Monday. “Collop” refers to small slices of leftover meat. In this case, it refers to the small fatty pieces of bacon. By frying up the fatty bacon, the British not only get rid of the meat that is prohibited during Lent, but it also provides the fat and grease for frying on Fat Tuesday.

In the Eastern Orthodox Church, “Shrove Monday” is called Clean Monday, and is the first day of “Great Lent”, which, in Greece, marks the unofficial beginning of spring. Based on church tradition, and very similar to the Jewish custom, Clean Monday technically starts during Vespers (or evening prayer) on Sunday, when they have the “Ceremony of Mutual Forgiveness”. During this ceremony, everybody bows to each other and ask for forgiveness. There are more religious services on Clean Monday itself, but there are also celebrations with kite flying.

 

~*~ Gretchen

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