Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Shrove Tuesday(*), Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday

(*) The name ‘Shrove’ comes from the archaic English word ‘to shrive’, which means to confess or hear confessions of sin, a practice that was customary in the church on this day.

It's Pancake Day again. Lent, marked by penitence and fast, starts tomorrow.

Forty days of fasting and of regretting my wrong doings... could I manage it? Nope. I really don't think so. Especially not the fasting bit of it... Life is too full of sacrifices and penitence already. Not eating is not as likely to earn me a ticket to heaven as it is to take me on a journey through hell.

Anyway, I wonder if this year there'll be any pancake races in Olney?

The Olney Pancake Race

Since 1445, a pancake race has been run in the town every Pancake Day. Tradition records that back in 1445, on Shrove Tuesday the "Shriving Bell" rang out to signal the start of the Shriving church service. On hearing the bell a local housewife, who had been busy cooking pancakes in anticipation of the beginning of Lent, ran to the church, frying pan still in hand, clad in apron and headscarf. The women of Olney recreate this race every Shrove Tuesday (better known outside of the United Kingdom as "Mardi Gras" or Fat Tuesday) by running from the market place to the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. The traditional prize is a kiss from the verger. In modern times, Olney competes with the town of Liberal, Kansas in the United States for the fastest time in either town and winner of the "International Pancake Race". This competition has been run every year since 1950.

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