Yummy scrummy it’s Pancake Day! The name Shrove Tuesday comes from the Roman Catholic practise of confessing sins and being ‘shrove’ or ‘shriven’ which means previous sins were forgiven and you could enter the fast of Lent with a clean conscience. Not that our notion of what constitutes a clear conscience would have been the order of the day in medieval times, when the festival was celebrated with cruel sports such as cock-fighting or the rough and tumble of street football which was played without any discernible rules. It was also not uncommon for folk to hound the local prostitutes around the town by throwing whatever came to hand at them.
On a much happier note if you are in Olney, Buckinghamshire you might be lucky enough to see the oldest pancake race in the world which is claimed to date back to 1445. The prize is a blessing from the Vicar and a Kiss of Peace from the Verger.
In countries with a Catholic heritage today is known as Mardi Gras which means ‘Fat Tuesday’, its odd name referring to the need to use up rich food before Lent, which is the same reason pancakes were eaten at this time. Today Mardi Gras is a time for celebrating and fun often in the form of lavish carnivals.