Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Shrove Tuesday in England Present and England Past

Well this week is a busy busy one! So much is happening, so much that I want to mark and celebrate in our home. As usual I feel like I am playing catch up as tried to find a bit of time over the week-end to prepare this weeks file folder. I planned to have this post up on Monday, yet here we are on Tuesday already and celebrations have begun!

Today is Shrove Tuesday. In England it is also known as Pancake Day and it is the last day before the start of Lent. Lent is a time of abstinence, of giving things up, so Shrove Tuesday is the last time to use up all the rich and fatty foods that were traditionally abstained from in the 47 days that follow. The name 'shrove' comes from the word 'shrive' which means to confess. On Shrove Tuesday in the middle ages, people would confess their sins so that they could be forgiven before the season of Lent began.

Shrove Tuesday in England draws upon tradition of ages past. Of course eating pancakes is a given, but some other lovely and strange traditions are still observed. I thought I would share some of them with you.

There is the Annual Pancake Grease which is observed at a famous Westminster school in London. Here the school cook tosses a huge pancake over a 5 meter high pole. The boys rush to grab a piece of the pancake, apparently the boy who has the larges piece receives a cash prize from the Dean.

Pancake races happen all over England, but the most famous 'pancake race village' is Olney where it was first run in 1445! The tradition was revived in 1948 and is still going strong.

Shrove Tuesday Skipping - In Scarborough, Yorkshire, people gather on the promenade and skip to mark the day :o)

Then there is the Ashbourne Shrovetide Football Game. This is the biggest, oldest, maddest football game in the world. It is played over two days, has thousands of players and goal that are 3 miles apart!

Some Shrove traditions of Pancake Days of old are just as quaint/strange/awful? You decide ;o)
*There was cockfighting (Plain awful in my mind) introduced by the Romans
*The Pancake Bell - Over a hundred years ago Shrove Tuesday used to be a half-day holiday. The 'Shriving Bell' was rung to signal the start of the holiday and to call the people to church for confession.
* Superstition - in the Midlands, the first pancake was given to the chickens, to ensure fertility throughout the year. It was believed that the first 3 pancakes were sacred, each was marked with a cross before being sprinkled with salt and then set aside to ward off evil.

In Our Home... well, we are not full of superstition and we do not need to ward of evil or ensure fertility - we trust our Savior for all that *smile* but we do eat pancakes!

I have prepared the batter and am about to cook the savoury fillings for supper. Dessert will be more pancakes filled with ice-cream and chocolate sauce.

Tomorrow I will be back to share our Lent plans and observances with you. I spent he weekend scouring the net for some new meaningful ideas that would really make this season special in our home. Of course there are some things we did last year that worked really well, and those have been included in our plans.

Until then, hope you are all having a very yummy Tuesday :o)

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