Happy Pancake Day!
Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday, is the traditional feast day before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Always falling exactly 47 days before Easter Sunday, the date varies year to year – falling between February 3rd and March 9th.
But why pancakes? (Not that we’re complaining…)
‘Shrove Tuesday’ gets it’s name from ‘shriving,’ a ritual Christians underwent to confess their sins in order to receive absolution from them. This tradition goes back over 1000 years, infact a monk wrote in the Anglo-Saxon Ecclesiastical Institutes, “In the week immediately before Lent everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall go shrive him.”
During Lent there are some foods which historically- with some continuing the tradition to this day- aren’t eaten. These include meat and fish, milk, eggs and fats. No one wanted to waste these food items, and so the day before Lent became a day of feasting so the perishables wouldn’t go off during the 40 days.
You might have heard of Mardi Gras in the United States- a huge festival in New Orleans. Mardi Gras translates to English from French to mean ‘fat Tuesday,’ and this is how they celebrate the day over there. Whilst this has today become a time of incredible parties, the origin remains that it’s the day before Ash Wednesday In the UK, the pancake came around as it meant the milk, fats and eggs could all be used in one go. The bell rang to call people to confession- the bell came to be called the ‘Pancake Bell,’ and is still rung today.
We talk lots about lent this time of year- more often than not the discussions are orientated around what we’re ‘giving up’ for lent. But why do we do this? Lent is the 40 days before Easter in the Christian Calendar- beginning on Ash Wednesday (the day after Shrove Tuesday.) The 40 days of lent replicate Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert where he fasted for 40 days whilst resisting temptation from Satan, and so it’s marked today by fasting- from food and festivities. Easter, at the end of this period, marks the resurrection of Jesus after his death on the cross, and so lent is reflective of the events leading up to (and including) his crucifixion.
Will you be making pancakes today? What’re your favourite toppings? Personally, we’re partial to some lemon juice and sugar…