Shrove Tuesday, the day before the beginning of Lent, is a favorite church tradition. Mardi-Gras in New Orleans has its Fat Tuesday and King Cake, but pancakes, bacon and sausage are the stars of Shrove Tuesday. The Lenten Fast calls Christians to abstain from sweet and fatty foods and instead focus on Christian discipline such as worship, prayer and reading scripture. Thus, pancakes with sweet syrup are the highlight of Shrove Tuesday.

For centuries, Shrove Tuesday has had many traditions. One such tradition is the Pancake Day Race at Buckinghamshire, England. Legend has it that on Shrove Tuesday 1445, while cooking pancakes, a woman heard the shriving bell which summoned the townsfolk to confession. In her haste to get to the church, she ran through the town still wearing her apron and carrying her skillet of pancakes. Today this is reenacted with a race through the town by women wearing dresses and aprons, carrying skillets with a cooking pancake. Each person must flip her pancake three times before reaching the church. The winner is the one who gets to the church fastest, having three flips of the pancake.

Folklore says that it is bad luck to drop a pancake while flipping it. It is said that Napoleon blamed his failure for victory in Russia because of a pancake he dropped during the French Candlemas. So beware, and don’t drop your pancakes
on Shrove Tuesday. On this eve of Lent, it is also tradition that many Christians take a good long look at their lives and examine just what it is they need to confess. After all, the act of acknowledging and confessing sins is what “shriving” is all about. Having confessed their sins, a traditional practice is to burn the palms from the previous year’s Palm Sunday to prepare ashes to be imposed on Ash Wednesday.

This year, Shrove Tuesday falls on March 5th. Join your church family and enjoy a wonderful Shrove Tuesday pancake
supper as we prepare for Ash Wednesday and the season of Lent.