It's that time of year again: the last day of Ordinary Time before the Lenten season commences! Alternately known as Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, and Faschingsdienstag, today is a day for merry-making and feasting before the great season of abstinence comes upon us.
* The Bookworm's Library has been updated: Real Learning by Elizabeth Foss
Perhaps the most well-known celebrations for this liturgical day are the Mardi Gras celebrations, such as the one in New Orleans. Of course, these are also known for being some of the most irreligious and immoral celebrations available. As our family is British, we tend to draw our traditions from the celebration of Shrove Tuesday, also referred to as Pancake Day in the British Isles. The "shrove" part comes from the tradition of "shriving," or going to Confession, in preparation for Lent. Simple enough, but what about the pancake part?
Pancakes have always been a traditional Shrove Tuesday food. According to the old Lenten regulations, dairy products and fats were among the banned foods during the forty day season, so thrifty housewives used up their supplies of these staples in making sumptuous pancake feasts for their families on the Tuesday before Lent. In Britain, things were taken a bit further, though. Legend has it that one pancake-making housewife was in the middle of cooking when she remembered that she had to get to church for confession. Not wanting to be inefficient, she rushed out the door, skillet in hand, flipping her pancake as she ran down the street to make it in time for Confession. Today in towns throughout the British Isles--and even a few in the United States--women participate in Pancake Races on Shrove Tuesday. Participants must wear a skirt or dress, apron, and heels and flip their pancake a specified number of times while running between two points in town, one of which is always the local parish.
While I won't be participating in any high-heeled pancake-flipping races this year, I will be serving up an abundance of fluffy flapjacks to my family for breakfast, after I've gone a-shriving. We'll round off our gluttony this evening with some steaks, homemade french fries (fried foods are a must on Shrove Tuesday!), and salads; this will conveniently use up some of the last of the meat that I've got stored in the freezer. One nice thing about clearing the freezer for Lent is that I will actually have room to do my freezer meals before the baby's due date in May. Oh, and I mustn't forget the creme d'la creme of our scrumptuous of indulgences: hot fudge brownie sundaes for dessert. I hope your day will be equally as fun and fattening!