Of course, Pancake Tuesday started as, and is still often called, Shrove Tuesday. It always occurs the last day before Lent (the 40 days prior to Easter), which starts on Ash Wednesday. You learned that in primary school. Me too. But...
...Well, maybe it is the heathen in me, but, I never knew before that 'Shrove' is the past tense of 'shrive' - which means to "make absolution for sins through confession and penance". Or that in medieval times the entire week before Ash Wednesday was known as Shrovetide.
As far back as 1000AD, "Good" Christians were expected to go to confession during the week leading up to Lent to make penance for any sins they had committed - it was not acceptable to enter such a Holy period of the year without a clear conscience and clean soul. (And, given Human Nature, I'm betting that probably often got pushed to the last day ;-).
Of course, this also meant Shrove Tuesday was the last chance to indulge in one's vices before the graveness of Lent, a period of reflection, fasting and praying. As such, there was (and continues to be in some parts of the world) much merriment, feasting and festivity on Shrove Tuesday and the days leading up to it (and so, Mardi Gras - literally "Fat Tuesday", now means festival! laughter! craziness! parade!...and Carnival (Latin for "stop eating meat" became a festival!).
How did we get from there to Pancake Tuesday though? Our Commonwealth heritage. Apparently, in England, Ireland and Scotland, it was common for folks to indulge in a meal of pancakes prior to the "Fast" associated with Lent, as they contained so many of the goodies which were restricted - fat, eggs & sugar. And even this tradition is old: by the 12th century, Pancake Tuesday was already celebrated in England with football games, pancake races and even a half day off work!
So now that we have that out of the way, what can you do to turn a regular ol' Tuesday with pancakes into PaNcAkE TuEsDaY (pretend that is flashing, glitter sparkled text, ok? For me?). Well, here are some of my plans:
- Make tissue paper flower garland & decorate around the kitchen windows - jazz it up with a string of mini-Christmas lights perhaps....
- Make ribbon streamers - pick out a few 6inch (or longer) lengths of various bright ribbons, attach at the base of a straw or dowel... flick & flutter them while playing noisemakers (or not!)...
- String beads everywhere - around our necks & wrists, on the table, on the doors, on the hamster cage, on the cat.... we have a slew of cheap dress up ones from the dollar store....
- Make Face masks out of Paper plates, notions (feathers, glitter, beads) & elastic....I know the boys will love this!
- Eat supper wearing said face masks (or some fancy ones we might have lying around?)
- Set a sparkling table - make a silver tablecloth with the kids (4 sheets metallic tissue paper joined with tape on the backside), top with glitter & metallic confetti. And we'll bring out the left over noise makers, hats and other "blingy" things that are left over from New Year's.
- In my Tasty Tuesday post, I have a ton of pancake recipes to share with you - we'll be cooking them with a little bit of money thrown in (well cleaned and wrapped in tin foil of course). It will be mostly quarters, a couple of loonies and the game will be "Who will get the toonie?".
Need more inspiration? There are some mask & garland ideas on Kaboose and Momstown has a great pancake-matching game that could also add some festivity to your day.
Oh, and by the way - in Iceland they don't have Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday.... they have salt meat & peas!
Hey - its a start!
Laissez les bons temps rouler!