Posted in Kafevend Blog
Tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday, otherwise known as Pancake Day for those who are a little more focused on the prospect of an excuse for good food! The word shrove comes from shrive, which itself means to confess. For various Christian denominations, the day marks a time to examine yourself and consider wrongs to repent, amendments to make and your spiritual growth. The practice of enjoying pancakes whilst you ponder these aspects of your life is based on the tradition of using up rich foodstuffs like sugar, milk and eggs before the fasting period of Lent.
Interestingly, the making of pancakes around this time of the year apparently has its roots in Slavic pagan festivals that were concerned with welcoming the start of spring. The changes that occurred during this time of year were viewed as a struggle between Jarilo, the god of vegetation, fertility and springtime, and evil spirits of cold and darkness. The pancake represented the sun, and eating them gave the power of the sun to Jarilo to help him fight the spirits. Some would also be left out for ancestor spirits and others burnt on bonfires as sacrifice to the gods. Like many Christian holidays, Shrove Tuesday simply adapted to the pre-existing festival and made it fit in with its own take on religion.
If you've ever wondered why Shrove Tuesday seems to meander over the years, it's because of its relation to Easter. Easter is what is known as a moveable feast, and working out the date is like opening a can of worms. Easter is held not on a specific date, but rather held on the first Sunday after the Paschal Full Moon, which is the full moon on, or soonest after, the 21st March. This full moon isn't necessarily the astronomically correct one however. What this all means is that Easter can be held anywhere from the 22nd March to 25th April. The fun doesn't stop there though- this calculation is only for the Western church. The Eastern Orthodox church bases its date on the Gregorian calender rather than the Julian calender, meaning that their Easter ranges from 4th April to 8th May. As if that weren't confusing enough, there are several dozens of feast days, like Shrove Tuesday, linked to Easter whose dates are dictated by the day Easter is held on!
For most people of course, pancakes are the highlight of the day. Eating them isn't all you can do with them however. Pancake races are a tradition in the UK, both at school and in the community. There have also been several pancake records : the biggest ever made was in Rochdale in 1994, measuring 15.01m in diameter, 2.5cm thick and weighing in at 3 tonnes. Brad Jolly, an Australian chef holds the record for tossing a pancake, managing a staggering 140 flips in a minute!
This would be a good place to put up a great pancake recipe, but we'd be hard pressed to beat the coffee pancake one we shared last year- take a look and see if it tickles your fancy!