Tuesday, February 28, 2006
at 8:58 AM
In the Christian calendar, Shrove Tuesday is the English name for the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, which in turn marks the beginning of Lent. In many solidly Roman Catholic countries in Europe and the Americas, this is the last day of Carnival. In some historically Francophone places it is Mardi Gras, French for Fat Tuesday; the most famous Shrove Tuesday celebration is the Brazilian Carnival.
It is also known as Pancake Day or Pancake Tuesday in Britain, Ireland, Australia, and Canada.
The origin of the name Shrove lies in the archaic English verb "to shrive" which means to absolve people of their sins. It was common in the Middle Ages for "shriveners" (priests) to hear people's confessions at this time, to prepare them for Lent.
In Ireland, Australia, and Canada, Shrove Tuesday is known as Pancake Tuesday, while in Britain it is popularly known as Pancake Day. In both regions the traditional pancake is a very thin one (like a French crêpe) which is served immediately sprinkled with caster sugar (superfine or powdered sugar in the United States) and a dash of fresh lemon juice or alternatively drizzled with Golden syrup.
Pancakes are eaten to use up milk and eggs, which are not eaten during Lent, and thus would otherwise spoil during this period. Pancakes first appeared in English cookbooks in the 15th century. In Britain and Ireland in particular, a number of traditions have grown up around the eating of pancakes. Some people in Britain know the day only by the name "Pancake Day" and some are even unaware of the day's connection to Lent.
Happy Fat Tuesday, for tomorrow there is Lent!
PS. Dont forget to do your rabbits tomorrow!