Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday

So today is Pancake Day.
I'm all for pancakes. Got nothing against 'em. Eaten quite a few of 'em in my time. Will eat some more tonight (courtesy of Rich and Sarah).
Everyone knows about Pancake Day, but ask people what tomorrow is and I imagine you'll get some blank faces.
For me, this is a classic example of the remnants of a once Christian culture now still hanging around in a very anachronistic way. Even the name we now give it is telling - Pancake Day rather than Shrove Tuesday. Admittedly, I don't know the provenance of the word 'Shrove' - I'll just look it up on Wikipedia. Hang on a moment....I'm back. Here it is:
The word shrove is a past tense of the English verb "shrive," which means to obtain absolution for one's sins by confessing and doing penance.[7] Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the shriving (confession) that Anglo-Saxon Christians were expected to receive immediately before Lent.[8]
Anyway, my point is....it feels a little odd to make so much of Shrove Tuesday which only exists because of what it precedes, but to have lost an understanding of the thing that makes it meaningful. Now it's just an excuse to eat a lot of pancakes.

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