Skip to comments.Shrove Tuesday: 'Pancake Day' Explained
Posted on 02/15/2010 2:19:07 PM PST by Salvation
I remember Pancake Day from my childhood. A bizarre tradition, one that turned my mother's nutritional schedule upside down, one that transformed math class into a picnic in our school rooms. Though I asked, there was little or no explanation for the inexplicable adult actions, and offered plates of pancakes brimming with butter and dripping with syrup, I didn't question the matter too closely.
During my first Lenten season as a Catholic, I finally began to gain some understanding and explanation for this strange habit. Actually not so strange at all, it makes perfect sense when viewed in a liturgical light, as does all of Catholic tradition.
Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras or fetter Dienstag) is the day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Since Lent is a time of abstinence, traditionally of meat, fat, eggs and dairy products (one wonders what was left) Shrove Tuesday's menu was designed to use up all the fat, eggs and dairy products left in the kitchen and storeroom. It is also a 'feast' to prepare for the time of 'famine' in the desert. In some cultures, it is traditional to eat as much as possible on Shrove Tuesday, sometimes up to 12 times a day.
The English term "shrovetide" (from "to shrive", or hear confessions) is explained by a sentence in the Anglo-Saxon "Ecclesiastical Institutes" translated from Theodulphus by Abbot Aelfric (q.v.) about A.D. 1000: "In the week immediately before Lent everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive him as he then my hear by his deeds what he is to do [in the way of penance]".
In many traditions, Lent is a time for cleaning, in preparation for Easter and spring. First your soul, then your kitchen, then the rest of the house was cleansed and purified of the past year's accumulations. Old clothes are mended, and new clothes purchased at this time of year. In the Ukraine, houses were whitewashed inside and out during Lent. In this way, everything was made ready to face the season of Salvation and Rebirth. Traditions of 'spring cleaning' stem from this religious observance.
Ingredients: (for 1 2/3 inch pancakes)
Crisp and brown, these are great with sour cream or yogurt, bacon and applesauce. This year, I'm going to try cooking them in the waffle iron.
Ingredients: (for nine 3 1/2 inch pancakes)
We still at the dairy products and eggs, however.
Any other childhood or family stories out there?
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The only real changes have come in the varieties of wheat and the quality of the milling.
'La bonne cuisine est la base du véritable bonheur.' - Auguste Escoffier
(Good food is the foundation of genuine happiness.)
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“Pancake and fritters, say the bells of St. Peter’s”
Paczki or nothing.
1800 calories of yummy goodness.
Can you share your recipe?
Just looked it up — Polish donuts of a kind, correct?
I have my Mardi Gras striped shirt from 1996’s parade in jefferson, tx.
I’m shaking my head driving past a Catholic church - “Ash Wednesday Fish Fry” they so don’t get it - a fish fry on a day of fast & abstinence?
I wonder if this grew out of the Jewish tradition of stripping the house and the cupboards of any type of leavening and flour in preparation for Passover? I had a Jewish friend who used to get rid of everything, cleane the cupboards, stove, refrigerator, and then start over.
Fasting is one full meal and two small meals.
Abstinence means eating no meat.
Nothing wrong with a Fish Fry if you only have two other light meals on Ash Wednesday.
Seems like a waste of food unless it was given to the poor.
Ash Wednesday has always been a solemn day to me - Fish Fry doesn’t sound solemn to me. Just the way my family observed it - nothing else.
Friday AFTER Ash Wednesday was always the first one - big gathering of the congregation after Stations of the Cross.
It’s in memory of when the Jews were hounded out of their homes and they had to flee and didn’t have time to let the bread rise (hence unleavened bread). We use unleavened bread in our ceremonies too (hosts). And many references to “the lamb”. They marked their door posts with the blood of the lamb and the marked houses were “passed over” and lived for another day. Our Easter is called Pasch, or Paschal, which is a derivitive of the Hebrew word for Passover. They get rid of the flour, cake mixes, etc. because they use only potato flour during Passover — not wheat.
I am a Catholic trying to describe the meaning of the Jewish traditions, so please forgive any inaccuracies. This is what I was told and how I remember it from my co-worker’s explanation.
I did not know about stripping the kitchen of all leavening and flour and starting over until I knew Fern. I haven’t seen her for years, but I’ve been thinking about her a lot because I’m currently doing the same to my pantry so that I can paint. Not as extreme a strip, but when I look at the age of some of the packages in the back of the cupboards, I’m thinking that it is not such a bad idea. :)
I drive to the Polish Bakery and wait in line at 4am.
They are way too much work!