Shrovetide and Bubble Ashes

Say what you will about Christianity, it’s got some solid rituals, and the Shrovetide, Lent, Easter trilogy is the most epic.

Today, Shrove Tuesday, is an important inflection point in the epic, a day of consideration and absolution, girding the loins for the 40 Lenten days until Easter.

As happens every once in a while, my birthday falls on Easter Monday this year, meaning I’ve 40 days left until I cross over in the grand select list from “45-54” to “55-64,” and so this Lenten season presents me with a handy opportunity for personal reflection, alongside my Christian neighbours. Oliver asked the family mailing list what we’re giving up this year; I said “confusion,” in jest, but, on reflection, perhaps not such a bad choice.

Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, and, like all else, COVID requires adaptation; at St. Paul’s they’re giving out “bubble ashes”:

The Ash Wednesday service will not include the individual imposition of ashes. Instead, we will impost the ashes on a symbol of the community and have individual cups of ashes available for group bubbles. These bubble ashes can be used in a variety of ways: they may be imposed on the foreheads of members of your bubble; they can be sprinkles in a garden or on a house plant; or, well, we don’t know, please let us know if you’ve thought of a creative way of using the ashes.

That’s delightful, and a demonstration that rituals need not be rigid in their interpretation as long as the spirit is hewed to.


Jeff Macklin's picture
Jeff Macklin on February 16, 2021 - 11:25 Permalink

I turned 54 last week, so i know of what you speak. GAH!

Thelma's picture
Thelma on February 16, 2021 - 14:52 Permalink

Never knew it was ashes were imposed, fascinating.