Well, folks, it’s upon us. The last day before Lent.
Some people call it Fat Tuesday, some call it Mardi Gras, and some people just call it the “last day to get rid of all those sweets” before the midnight hour hits on Ash Wednesday.
In Great Britain, it’s traditionally known as Shrove Tuesday, from the word “shrive” or “absolve.” The faithful would traditionally go to Confession on this day and be “shriven” of their sins in preparation for Lent.
The Brits also have another fun title for this day—Pancake Day!
Back in the good old days, Britain and many other regions in the Church abstained not only from meat during Lent, but from dairy products and eggs, too. Pancakes were a good way to use up those foods before Lent started.
The bell calling people to Confession on this day was accordingly known as the “Pancake Bell.”
Some fabulous traditions still exist across the pond for Pancake Day. One of the most famous is the Olney pancake race, which originates with the tale of a 15th-century housewife who heard the “Pancake Bell” while cooking pancakes. She was in such a hurry to get to the church for Confession, that she ran there with her frying pan still in her hand!
To this day, the housewives of Olney gather on Shrove Tuesday to reenact their predecessor’s famous race to the church. Carrying frying pans with a pancake inside, the wives have to flip the pancake three times whilst running from the town square to the church.
While the rules of fasting and abstinence no longer require the forfeiture of dairy products, pancakes are still a fun and delicious way to ring out the old and ring in the new, spiritually speaking.
If you’re still looking for a transformative Lenten prayer practice, consider praying the powerful Marian Chaplet of the Seven Sorrows! This devotion was originated in the thirteenth century. It recalls the Sorrows of the Virgin Mother of God endured in compassion for the suffering and death of her Divine Son. Beautifully enabling you to meditate on both Our Lady and her Son’s suffering, this chaplet is the perfect Lenten prayer practice. Bring your chaplet home from The Catholic Company!