Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What do pancakes have to do with the beginning of Lent?

Who's asking: Me

Sleep-walking through my local Hannaford the other day, I found myself putting a box of pancake mix in the cart without even thinking about what I was doing. Pancake mix? I never make pancakes. Why was I buying pancake mix?

Because it was February, and it was a week before Ash Wednesday, and it was time to make pancakes. I always make pancakes on the Tuesday before Lent, variously known as Mardi Gras, Fasching, Carnivale, Shrove Tuesday, and -- yes -- Pancake Tuesday.

"Carnivale" I get, because it means "farewell to meat," from the days when Lent meant abstaining from meat altogether. But why pancakes, other than the obvious fact that they go so well with bacon?

Apparently Lent, at one time, meant going without fat, eggs and sugar as well as without meat. Back in the day, using up all the fat, eggs and sugar in the house meant making pancakes, so the Tuesday before Lent was the day to do that. (Hence "Fat Tuesday" -- Mardi Gras -- refers to eating all the fat, not to trying to get fat before Lent began.)

So I'm making some pancakes, in honor of a tradition so entrenched I never even learned what it was about. I don't even like pancakes that much; I prefer waffles. If you want some, feel free to drop by.


ercwttmn said...

as a proud kansas native, i thought i'd pass this on:

hope the link works:


ercwttmn said...

if not, just google "liberal pancake race"