Happy ‘Pancake Day’Posted: 17th of February 2015 by
Today is Shrove Tuesday, which for many people today means eating little more than eating as many pancakes as they can handle! Making yourself feel sick with pancakes loaded with syrup, sugar, lemon, or whatever other topping you desire is as far as many people go when it comes to thinking about Shrove Tuesday – even though many people understand that there is some sort of connection to Christianity. Much like how many people see Easter as being all about chocolate eggs, Shrove Tuesday has become distanced from its roots in the modern world. So, what is it all about, and why do we eat pancakes on this day?
Pancake Day marks the last day before Lent, a period in the Christian calendar when Christians give things up. This traditionally would have included ingredients used in making pancakes such as sugar, eggs and butter, although many people today opt to give up things like chocolate for this period. In order to use up these foodstuffs it was traditional to make pancakes before Lent begins.
Lent runs from Ash Wednesday until Easter Day, 47 days later. The actual dates change every year according to the calendar but always falls somewhere between February 3rd and March the 9th. To show the varying in the timing of Shrove Tuesday, next year it will fall on the 9th of February, while in 2017, Pancake Day will be on the 28th of February.
The word ‘shrove’ comes from the old word ‘shrive,’ which means to confess. Back in the Middle Ages people would confess their sins in order to be forgiven before Lent began. As such Shrove Tuesday was a day of both celebration and penitence – giving it a somewhat confusing dual purpose. However, these days, Shrove Tuesday is more about celebration than it is about being penitent!
Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day is also sometimes called Pancake Tuesday, but has other names in countries around the world. In Brazil it is called Terça-feira gorda (Fat Tuesday) and marks the final day of Brazilian Carnival. In Greece it is called Apocreas, which means "from the meat" as meat is often given up during Lent in Greece too. In France and Catholic or French-speaking part so the USA, it is known as Mardi Gras, while Germany calls the day ‘Fastnacht’ (fast night), for obvious reasons. Sweden also opts for ‘Fat Tuesday’ (Fettisdagen), while Iceland call the day ‘Bursting Day’ (Sprengidagur).
Whether or not you observe Lent, we wish you a happy Pancake Day and hope you don’t eat too much and end up feeling sick! Although it always begs the question – why don’t we generally eat pancakes on other days of the year?
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