Posted by: mdmusingsie | February 21, 2012

Pancake Tuesday

A holiday with many names:  Pancake Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, or Máirt Inide in Ireland; Fat Tuesday, Carnival, or Mardi Gras in the US and other parts of the world, plus many other names.  The day to live it up before the fasting and austerity associated with the Christian season of Lent.

Why pancakes?  They contained many of the ingredients that families were required to abstain from during the Lenten period including butter, sugar, and eggs.  It was a simple way to use them up in a single dish.  This tradition can be traced back many hundreds of years.  In some places, it still includes a pancake race with participants holding a frying pan containing a pancake which they have to toss and catch numerous times as they run along the route.

The traditional pancake bore a closer resemblance to a crepe than the thick variety we generally see today.  Once cooked, they were sprinkled with sugar and lemon juice and rolled into a cylinder to be eaten with or without syrup.

The term Shrove intrigued me and after doing some research, it turns out the word is derived from “shrive” or “shriven” which means to confess.  It was a tradition to confess your sins on this day so as to have a clear conscious going into Lent.

Other traditions included performing a large number of marriages on this day, as that sacrament was forbidden during the Lenten season (another custom that has fallen into disuse by modern society).

While the Lenten season is not as stringent as it was in years past, pancake events around Ireland abound; many of which are used to raise funds for charitable causes.

Not generally a pancake fan myself, I abstained from the custom, but it is still interesting learning the traditions of a new country.  However you spend the day, hope you have a “flippin’” good time!

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