16th February 2021
Today is Shrove Tuesday — Pancake Day.
Last year due to m husband being gluten and dairy free and my daughter being on a diet, counting calories, there were no pancakes. Although I love them, I wasn’t going to make them just for me. And I was relieved not to have to make up the batter and stand over the hot stove cooking them. The reward definitely wasn’t worth the effort.
This year is different. A boomerang son is living with us now who loves pancakes, having them often, especially when the snacks have run out and the cupboards are empty before the next shop. So, I’m hoping he and I will share some this evening.
What a world of a difference, though, to when the children were all at home. They eagerly waited for Shrove Tuesday, when we’d have pancakes, always at tea time, after a small main meal. I made the batter earlier in the day — lots of it. More often than not, I’d have to make more as they disappeared quickly into little bellies.
I stood the the stove for hours flipping each individual pancake, making more than forty during one tea time. They would eat more quickly than I could supply them and then wait eagerly for their next one. In the end I was usually too exhausted to have one myself. All I could do was sit with a cup of tea and sigh.
The children loved them though, some dolloping chocolate spread in large spoonfuls into the middle and carefully easing it to the edges before rolling it, others might have jam and do the same, still others, especially as they got older would squeeze lemon juice liberally all over and cover it with an inordinate amount of sugar. Joanna even squeezed lemon juice, covered with sugar, then plopped strawberry jam on too. “Urrgghh!!” the chorus that went up from her siblings. As far as I was concerned, it didn’t matter, as long as they ate their concoctions.
At some point in time, I changed the pattern. It occurred to me that I could make up batches and keep them warm in the oven, thereby being able to eat together and actually maybe, enjoy one myself. One time, I remember, I made 50. It took a few hours, but it was worth it. I separated them by putting grease proof paper between each one. How much more relaxed. Why didn’t I think of it before?
What a revelation. It worked so well, I went on to do it every year from then on.
You might want to know why we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? And where did the name come “Shrove Tuesday” come from.
Well, it’s a Christian tradition. Shrove Tuesday always comes before Ash Wednesday which is the start of the Lenten season. It was customary to be shriven, (absolved ) before lent started, so that the season could be prayerful, so that a Christian could prepare his/her soul for the great celebration of Easter. Unlike the popular view that Christmas is the most important Christian celebration, for a Christian it’s actually Easter, the time we remember that Jesus, died and rose again. The lenten season then is a time to put things right with God. Many people would go/still go to confession to clear and clean the soul.
Having pancakes came about because people would have to eat all the fats and eggs in the house, due to fasting during the following weeks. We no longer have such strict fasts, but we are still encouraged to find ways to do without and live more spiritually, more simply. To think of others by finding ways to help the needy too.
So, this year I might get to enjoy a pancake or two. But I’ll also be looking at how I can live this lent in a more prayerful and thoughtful way, so that Easter will be for me a great celebration.
Will you be eating pancakes today or changing things over these next few weeks? It would be good to hear your stories.