Christians around the world celebrate Easter to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ two days after he was crucified. The forty days before Easter week is known as the lent period (starting on a Wednesday; Ash Wednesday and ends on Saturday just before Easter) to follow the path of 40 days fast and penance observed by Lord Christ in the desert. The day before the Lent period prior to Ash Wednesday is celebrated as a feast day called the Shrove Tuesday.
The Shrove Tuesday is the last day of the Shrovetide, i.e., the week before the beginning of lent. This year the day is celebrated on the 9th of February 2016. Shrove Tuesday is also called the Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday or Pancake Day or Pancake tuesday.
It is a day for feast, delicious food and partying. Pancakes are prepared and eaten on this day in many parts of England, America, Canada, Netherland, Ireland and Australia; hence the name Pancake Day or Pancake Tuesday.
It was a tradition in the earlier century to confess their sins on Shrove Tuesday so as to prepare for the spiritual lent period. The name 'Shrove Tuesday' came from the word 'shrive' meaning to hear confess. People also arrange a big and tasty dinner of meat, eggs, butter and other items that are to be avoided during the lent period. So in all way Shrove Tuesday is a preparation for the forty days Lent starting from the very next day.
Shrove Tuesday is also called as Pancake day, as a part of many holidays in European countries Pancake Day was originally called as Pagan Holiday. The name was extracted as the sacrifice of left out pancakes are burnt in the fire to the Pagan God. This began before Christian era, the Slavs believed that the change of season was a struggle between god of vegetation Jarilo, fertility and spring with the evil spirits of cold and darkness. People believed in Jarilo to fight against the winter and bring spring back. The most important part of Shrovetide week is to prepare Pancakes and eat. Slavs assumed that the hot pancakes, round pancakes as sun and considered by eating pancakes would bring power, light, the warmth of the sun. The first Pancake will be placed near the window to the ancestors and at the end of the week left out pancakes were burnt in the fire as a sacrifice to the Pagan Gods. The Shrove week begins before the fasting period of lent to have a rich food and the fasting period last of 40 days.
The observation of the Shrove Tuesday began in the middle ages in parts of United States. As the lent period starts from the next day they could not have the foods like meat, milk eggs or fish in these forty days. The people started to celebrate the day just before Ash Wednesday as a feast day preparing rich and fatty foods from all the butter, milk, eggs and meat that were available in the household. Making pancakes on this day was practiced so as to use up as much of egg, butter and milk possible. The Shrove Tuesday night dinner was the most fabulous and rich dinner the Christians would have before the Easter celebration.
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The shrove Tuesday is a day of celebration penance and feast. The church holds a mass on this day and the Christians attends the special mass after which they confess their sins and get purified inside out to enter into the Lent on the coming day.
On this day people engage themselves in dancing, drinking and enjoying. There is a tradition of cooking tasty pancakes and serving it with tasty toppings. The pancake race is conducted on the day where women dresses up in apron and cap and runs the race tossing the pan cakes on the frying pan. This is a rather interesting game and the International Pancake races in Olney in Buckinghamshire have been conducted since 1445.
The celebration also includes carnivals and colorful parades where the people wear elaborate and flamboyant masks and costume and overturn the social conventions. Women dresses up as men and men the other way round and these participants try out practical jokes on the viewers and on each other. This is a day for fun and all the participants of the dances and sings all the way and the day is also filled with feasting drinking and fortune telling.
At Scarborough, North Yorkshire the roads are closed and the children are left from schools earlier than usual so as to participate in the group activities where all the residents of the locality are invited to skip on the road. Long fishing ropes were used traditionally and later it was changed to smaller skipping ropes.
It is a tradition to prepare thick pancakes and serve them hot. So is it all you make for the Shrove Tuesday? No, many other traditional food items are also prepared during the day, sweet fried dumpling called 'cenci' are prepared are on the day. King cake, feasty cock, krapfen and marzipan are some other food prepared in different parts of the world to celebrate the day.
Here is an easy and tasty recipe which could be tried out by anyone.
Mix in a cup of sieved flour, a teaspoon of baking powder and one to two tablespoon of granulated sugar in a large bowl. In another bowl whisk in an egg and a cup of milk and add the flour mix until the batter is smooth. Into the batter slowly mix in a tablespoon of melted butter. Pour about 1/4 to 1/3 cups of the batter on a hot griddle and cook on both the sides. Try topping it with sweetened fresh cream, jam or strawberry crush. Serve it hot on and see your children will love it. Try it out on the next Shrove Tuesday and enjoy the real way of celebrating the day.
Also try out some of the other traditional recipes and plan a party in your house and dress up in colorful mask and costume to enjoy the day.