Why do we eat pancakes on a Shrove Tuesday
In the past Christians used to go to church to confess their sins and were absolved from them. This was called “Shriven” or “Shrive”. Later this was shortened to Shrove. That’s why today Pancake Day is known as Shrove Tuesday. But why do we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday?
Christians believe that Lent commemorated Jesus’ 40 days in wilderness and that’s why they mark this period by fasting. Shrove Tuesday was the perfect day to use up the ingredients that were given up for Lent: butter, milk, flour and of course eggs. Pancakes were a dish that could use up all the eggs, butter and milk in the house with just the addition of flour. A pancake was, in those calorie-starved days, considered a luxury.
In United Kingdom the tradition of making and eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday falls between 2nd of February and 9th of March. The date of Shrove Tuesday depends on the date of Easter. Shrove Tuesday is celebrated in many countries. New Orleans for example has Mardi Gras, and Rio de Janeiro equally raucous carnival. Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday is known as ‘Fasnacht’ in Germany what means the night of the fast. In Italy it is called ‘Carnivale’ from the Latin for ‘goodbye to the flesh’. Mardi Gras is celebrated not only in New Orleans but also in Brazil and Australia.
Catholics created huge tradition around Shrove Tuesday. It has become colourful variety of Carnivals around the world. And even the word ‘carnival’ is linked to fasting for Lent. One interpretation of this word says that it originated from the Latin ‘Caro Vale’ what means “Farewell Meat”. And not only eating pancakes on a Shrove Tuesday is a popular tradition. At St. Columb Major in Cornwall, rival villages have a tradition of playing ‘Hurling the Silver Bell’, using a ball of applewood covered in silver. In Scarborough, local people enjoy the customs of ‘Ringing the Pancake Bell’ and ‘Shrovetide Skipping’. People set up long skipping ropes across the promenade and up to 10 people have to skip at one time.
In Venice the tradition of Carnival is very old. Carnivals have been taking place since 1268 only with a few centuries interruption. Carnivals in Venice are very popular mainly because of the tradition of wearing masks. These masks have even longer history than the Carnival. Masks were the symbol of protest against oppressive conditions in this small city. The Carnival almost disappeared in the 18th century but it was again celebrated after new masks were sold in the shops in the 1980s.
Germany has its highly ritualistic Carnival and featuring parades, humorous speeches and floats. Nowadays, German Carnival is becoming more and more popular tourist attraction. It is even sometimes compared to Munich’s Oktoberfest. German Carnival is so unique also because it starts at November 11th at 11:11. Carnival can be cancelled. Last time it was cancelled in 1991 to show the protest against the US war in Iraq.
In Rio de Janeiro, Carnival is a very important tradition. The Carnival lasts four nights, from 8 pm until early morning. During the Carnival big samba schools parade their thousands of members through the Sambadrome. Each school parades for 80 minutes. After the parade the winner of the year’s Carnival is chosen. Many Brazilians cannot afford to buy the ticket to the Sambadrome because they have become very expensive.
Shrove Tuesday is a perfect day to reflect, to seek penance and get ready for Lent.
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There are also a few other recipe websites that I would like to recommend. If you like waffles then go to http://www.waffle-recipe.com, they have lots and lots of recipes for different waffles from Belgian to Liege. Then there is also this site that specializes in potato recipes and has a nice section on how to make potato pancakes, great for those leftover mashed potatoes - check them out!