It's a day to feast on collops (slices) of bacon and, if you like, eggs as well. It's a British tradition that has largely died out. We had porridge for breakfast today.
WHEN IS COLLOPS MONDAY?
It's the day before Shrove Tuesday, which is the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins. This year Collops Monday is today. The date changes each year because Lent is the time of preparation for Easter which is a moveable feast. World-wide there are many traditions associated with the days before Lent begins. Often these are about carnival and fun before the austerity of Lent, as I highlighted last year in Rosenmontag. The Puritans did a thorough job of eliminating from the English calendar any merry-making that might lead to sin. This included Christmas for a while and I believe it is still illegal in England to eat mince pies at Christmas. But - back to Collops Monday.
WHY EAT COLLOPS OF BACON TODAY?
Like that of abstaining from meat during Lent, this tradition began for a practical reason. In the cold winters of the northern hemisphere pork and other meat preserved over winter by salting were a key ingredient of the diet. By February or March there would be little left which is why it made good economic sense not to eat meat in Lent, but wait for Easter and the new crop of spring lambs etc. So today the last slices of salt bacon might be cooked. These would be very fatty and the fat could be left in the pan to cook the Shrove Tuesday pancakes to use up the eggs. (More of that in tomorrow's post.)
DO CHRISTIANS HAVE TO GIVE UP THINGS IN LENT?
No, but some choose to do so as a spiritual discipline. Other's choose to take something on. Or you could do both. If you haven't decided what you are going to do David Keen has useful links in 'Lenternet' to get you started. In Monday Morning Blues Digitalnun refers to St Benedict's advice for making a good Lent and especially one element. St Benedict suggests that
whatever we do should be done ‘with the joy of the Holy Spirit’ and ‘looking forward to Easter with joy and spiritual longing’ (cf RB 49. 6, 7).I have almost decided what I will do. I will let you know tomorrow.