Feb 13, 2010

Pancake Day

In the United Kingdom, Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday is the day before lent. During lent one is supposed to fast, so a day of eating prior to 40 days of deprivation. Pancake day varies in line with Easter. In 2010, it is on February 16.

Pancake day is the last chance to indulge yourself, and to use up the foods that weren't allowed during Lent. Pancakes are eaten on this day because they contain fat, butter, and eggs which were forbidden during Lent. Eating meat was also forbidden.

Pancake races and tossing the pancakes are two traditions that have stayed with us. Women race with pancakes in frying-pans, tossing them as they run. This was one of many merry-making games played at this time.

Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the ritual of shriving, when the faithful confessed their sins to the local priest and received forgiveness before the Lenten season began.

As far back as 1000 AD, "to shrive" meant to hear confessions. 'Short shrift' is derived from this and means giving little attention to someone's explanations.

Today, the Shrove Tuesday pancake tradition lives on throughout Western Europe, the United States, Canada and Australia, but is most associated with the UK where it is simply known as Pancake Day with a traditional recipe.

In France, as well as in New Orleans it is known as Fat Tuesday which kicks off the Mardi Gras festival with wild celebrations just before the austere Lenten season.  Mardi Gras means Grease or Fat Tuesday.

In Poland, pączki  and faworki are traditionally eaten on Fat Thursday, the one before Shrove Tuesday. However, in areas of Detroit, like Hamtramck with a large Polish  population, they are eaten on "Fat Tuesday" due to French influence. Shrove Tuesday itself is sometimes referred to as "śledzik" ("little herring") and it is customary to have some pickled herring with Polish vodka that day.