March 8, 2011
Why Do We Eat Pancakes on Fat Tuesday?
Today is Fat Tuesday here in the US and, of course, in France. Fat Tuesday officially kicks off Mardi Gras festivities. The term “Fat Tuesday" refers to the practice of eating fatty foods on the night before Ash Wednesday, which is the start of the 40-day Lenten season. Ritual fasting has traditionally been associated with Lent. Today is also called “Shrove Tuesday” throughout English-speaking countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia New Zealand, and to a more limited degree the US. The term “Shrove Tuesday” gets its name from the ritual of shriving, which means to gain absolution for sins via confession and penance, which is sought right before the start of the Lent season. Historically during the lent period, the faithful were forbidden from eating meat, butter, eggs and milk. Families would have to consume any remaining portions of this type of food before lent, since it would most certainly spoil otherwise. The solution for many was to combine butter, eggs and milk - along with a few other ingredients - to make tasty pancakes. In the UK Shrove Tuesday is sometimes referred to as simply Pancake Day. On Pancake Day, pancake races are held across the United Kingdom. Participants race through the streets while tossing pancakes in the air and catching them in a pan. So whether you’re racing through the streets or not, take some time to enjoy some pancakes today. Happy Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras/Pancake Day!