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Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday
What it all means
February 28, 2022

Rev. Bruce Cheney, Sr. is the priest of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Oriental. He writes in about the meaning of the upcoming Christian holy days and invites readers to participate in the services, festivities, and dinners offered by St. Thomas Episcopal, Oriental United Methodist Church, and St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church.

Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday?

What is Mardi Gras?
Mardi Gras is the day before Ash Wednesday when the Christian season of Lent begins. This day is also called Shrove Tuesday, a name that comes from the practice of “shriving”—purifying oneself through confession—prior to Lent. For many Christians, Shrove Tuesday is a time to receive penance and absolution.

You’ll sometimes hear Mardi Gras (Tuesday, March 1) referred to as “Carnival.” Technically, this term refers to the period of feasting that begins on January 6 (the Feast of the Epiphany) and ends on Mardi Gras. In cities such as New Orleans (U.S.), Rio Janeiro (Brazil), and Venice (Italy), there are week-long festivals leading up to Mardi Gras.

What does Mardi Gras Mean?
Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday.” (Mardi is the word for Tuesday and gras is the word for fat.)

This name comes from the tradition of using up the eggs, milk, and fat in the pantry because they were forbidden during the 40-day Lenten fast, which begins the next day (Ash Wednesday) and ends on Holy Thursday (three days before Easter Sunday).

A big part of Shrove Tuesday is eating an abundance of delicious fried food – especially donuts and Shrove Tuesday Pancakes.

This year, St. Thomas Episcopal hosts Shrove Tuesday pancake supper at 6pm at St. Thomas Episcopal Church on Freemason Street. Everyone is welcome. This is a free dinner, donations are accepted.

Ash Wednesday
Ash Wednesday, March 2, 2022, marks the start of Lent, the six weeks (40 days) before Easter when many people spend time reflecting and preparing for Christ’s resurrection. (Easter falls on April 17 this year.)


Churches across the state will hold Ash Wednesday services throughout the day. In Oriental, there are a variety of service types and times available to you.

Oriental United Methodist Church (Rev. Dr. Anne Sims) and St. Thomas Episcopal Church (Rev. Bruce Cheney) offer a very brief service at the Labyrinth at 8am with the distribution of ashes to follow. Both churches on Freemason St. (Church St.) will be offering Ashes to Go or drive-thru ashes so you won’t even need to get out of your car.

At a typical Ash Wednesday mass or service, a priest, minister, or pastor places ashes on a person’s forehead in the shape of a cross. In drive-thru services, you drive up, roll down the window, and receive the ashes through your open window.

Traditional indoor services will also be held at St. Thomas Episcopal Church, Oriental United Methodist Church, and St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church.

Services and Festivities
• 8a, Labyrinth Ash Service, The OUMC Labyrinth (South Ave and Freemason)
• 12p, Ash Wednesday Service, St. Thomas Episcopal Church
• 1-2p, Ashes-to-go (Drive Thru), Freemason Street by the churches
• 4p, Ash Wednesday Service, Oriental United Methodist Church
• 5-6p, Ashes-to-go (Drive Thru), Freemason Street by the churches
• 5p, Ash Wednesday Service, St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church
• 6p, Ash Wednesday Service, St. Thomas Episcopal Church

St. Thomas Episcopal and Oriental United Methodist are located next door to each other at 402 and 404 Freemason Street in Oriental. Saint Peter the Fisherman is located at 1149 White Farm Rd in Oriental.