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Pancake Day: What is the meaning of Shrove Tuesday?

Pancake Day: What is the meaning of Shrove Tuesday?

Last week a well-known supermarket chain had small pancake pans featured in their ‘special buys’ aisle, serving as a reminder that Tuesday 13 February is Pancake Tuesday – more correctly known as Shrove Tuesday.

Falling on the day before Ash Wednesday, from as far back as the 16th century Shrove Tuesday has traditionally been the last day to indulge before the fasting of Lent began and an opportunity to use up the food that couldn’t be eaten during Lent including eggs, milk, and fat – in other words, pancake ingredients!

It has a few different names around the world and across religions – Mardi Gras in France, which translates to Fat Tuesday, Fat Week in Poland – where they also enjoy deep fried angel wing shaped desserts sprinkled with icing sugar, and in Iceland it is Bursting Day – the day to overload on salted lamb and pea soup.

Not only is it a day to enjoy pancakes and other treats before ‘giving up’ such indulgences for the 40 days of Lent, but it is also a day to consider wrongs you need to repent and to ask for spiritual guidance. Shrove comes from the word ‘shrive’ meaning ‘absolve’, and many Christians attend confession on this day.

Pope Francis also suggests Christians use this as a time to pause and examine their presence in their community and the contribution they make, to strive to do more to make the world a better place, “For faith and charity take hope, this small child, by the hand. They teach her to walk, and at the same time, she leads them forward.”