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Preparing for Ash Wednesday and Lent

Posted: Monday, Feb 4th, 2013

On Feb. 12, churches of many denominations and traditions will celebrate Shrove Tuesday.

Actually, millions of people, religious or not, will be celebrating that day, as it is otherwise known as Mardi Gras.

It is the last day before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent, and is also known as Fastnacht Day, Fat Tuesday (which is English for Mardi Gras), or Pancake Tuesday, to name a few.

The word “shrove” in Shrove Tuesday is the past tense of the word “shrive,” which means the act of confession, or of a priest hearing a confession and pronouncing absolution. Once again, this is tied to Lent, where people would confess their sins and be shriven before the penitential season began.

The tradition of eating pancakes on that day comes from the need to use up all of the rich ingredients in the house, such as milk, eggs and sugar, before the Lenten fast begins, with its 40-day emphasis on plain foods and avoidance of foods which give pleasure. Pancakes are a convenient and tasty way to use up those ingredients all at once.

Another festive (and silly) tradition that has grown up around pancakes, mainly in Britain, is the pancake race. In towns all over England, racers dash through the streets with frying pans, flipping their pancakes as they run. The most famous of these races is held in a town called Olney and has been held every year since 1445. It is traditionally run by women, but men can join if they dress up as a housewife in an apron and kerchief.

This year, in keeping with its Anglican tradition, but minus the pancake racing (but look for it next year!), Grace Episcopal Church, will be serving its own annual Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper from 5 to 7 p.m. at the church, Sixteenth Street and McClellan Avenue Southwest.

Pancakes, eggs, sausage, juice, and coffee will be served. There is no charge, but a freewill offering will be taken. It is open to the public, and all are welcome!

Rev. Jean Mornard is parish priest at Grace Episcopal Church.

For the complete article see the 02-03-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 02-03-2013 paper.

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