Shrove Tuesday is a prime example of this. Many know Shrove Tuesday simply as the day that we go to church and eat pancakes together (which is awesome!). There might be a vague recollection of some connection to Lent and/or Mardi Gras, with no real idea what that connection might be.
I came across a brief history lesson (the full-text is here) today that is very insightful and importantly answers the question of why we celebrate with pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.
Basically it dates back to a British tradition of families gathering together to use up rich foods from which you traditionally abstain and would subsequently go bad over the 40 days of Lent. The article goes on to explain the roots of the word Shrove (which is not commonly used anymore).
Shrove Tuesday wasn’t just about cleaning out the kitchen. It was also about cleaning out the heart. Shrove is the past tense of shrive, which means to confess sins and to have sins absolved. Priests would ring shriving bells to call pancake-laden parishioners to church to confess their sins—perhaps starting with their gluttony!
As we prepare to embark on the Lenten journey to the cross but ultimately to the empty grave, may we have hearts that are clean!