Shrove Tuesday & Ash Wednesday

February 7, 2008

As we always put pictures on the glog we have decided this week to give you a little history lesson.

In Great Britain we celebrate Pancake Day, here its Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras. Its a family time and as a child we loved to watch dad throw pancakes, (or crepes as you would recognize them). Sometimes they came out as a stickie mess on the bottom of the pan other times a beautiful crafted pancake was placed on your plate ready to be smothered in sugar and lemon. No maple syrup in Great Britain….. there is some but not widely available.

Shrove Tuesday is also called Fat Tuesday (in French, Mardi=Tuesday; gras=fat, as in “pate de foie gras”, which is liver paste and very fatty), because on that day a thrifty housewife uses up the fats that she has kept around (the can of bacon drippings, or whatever) for cooking, but that she will not be using during Lent. Since pancakes are a standard way of using up fat, the day is also called Pancake Tuesday. In England, the day is celebrated with pancake races. The contestants run a course while holding a griddle and flipping a pancake. Points are awarded for time, for number and height of flips, and number of times the pancake turns over. There are of course penalties for dropping the pancake.

It is always the day before the start of Lent other wise known as Ash Wednesday

Ash Wednesday is its colloquial name. Its official name is the Day of Ashes. It is called Ash Wednesday because, being forty days before Good Friday, it always falls on a Wednesday and on that day at church the faithful have their foreheads marked with ashes in the shape of a cross. The ashes are made by burning palm fronds which have been saved from the previous year’s Palm Sunday, they are then blessed by a priest — blessed ashes having been used in Christian rituals since the time of Moses.

In many languages, the word “Lent” actually means “fast.” This is where the custom of giving up something for Lent originated.

So in the tradition of Lent, those who observe it give something up for 40 days…… I do remember giving up chocolate as a child and the easter eggs that year were the best I had ever eaten.

Do you observe Lent? If so, what are you giving up?

Chris & Helen

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