As is PubTheo’s custom, we are taking this week off from our discussion so that we can participate in that very Anglican tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, the evening before Ash Wednesday. While some folks may celebrate this as Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, or here in the Detroit area Paczki Day, we mark it with a funny old-English sounding name and pancakes. Here’s why:
Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is the traditional feast day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Lent – the 40 days leading up to Easter – was traditionally a time of fasting and on Shrove Tuesday, Anglo-Saxon Christians went to confession and were “shriven” (absolved from their sins). A bell would be rung to call people to confession. This came to be called the “Pancake Bell” and is still rung today.
Shrove Tuesday was the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before embarking on the Lenten fast and pancakes are the perfect way of using up these ingredients.
A pancake is a thin, flat cake, made of batter and fried in a frying pan. A traditional English pancake is very thin and is served immediately. Golden syrup or lemon juice and caster sugar are the usual toppings for pancakes.
So the traditional English pancake is more like what we’d call a Swedish pancake than what you’ll normally find gracing an American breakfast table, or in this case, your plate in the church fellowship hall. But the point is still the same. This is the last hurrah or indulgence before we all tighten our belts for Lent.
If you’d like to join us as we tuck into the sweets, our Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper will be tomorrow evening in the fellowship hall at St. Mary’s-in-the-Hills Episcopal Church, Lake Orion, our parish home. At 5:30 pm there will be a short service as we burn the palms from last year’s Palm Sunday services to make the ashes for Ash Wednesday. The pancakes start rolling off the griddle at 6 pm.