Because of all of that, I have always been fascinated by various religions and fasting. Mostly since I have never done it. Well, except that one time a few weeks ago I had to fast for blood work but instead drank a giant glass of sweet tea in the morning, sheepishly admitted it to my doctor who told me to have the work done anyway and she would note it when tests shows I was a raging diabetic. Except that she called me later laughing because my blood sugar was fine anyway.
But, I digress...
If I want to get back on topic ( and I am not sure that I do because a big glass of sweet tea sounds pretty good right now) I need to talk about Lent and fasting.
Most people know Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter and that observant Catholics and other Christians give up something during this period. Traditionally, it was things like eggs, milk, meat and fats. They also didn't believe in wasting food- so a big celebration was held on Tuesday including a feast where they ate all of their remaining ingredients that would be forbidden during Lent and that were perishable and would not last through Lent. "Mardi Gras" is french for "fat Tuesday"- because of they ate of all the "fats" before fasting for Lent. My dad's side of the family is Cajun- so if you speak to me in terms of Mardi Gras, I can understand.
However, in the UK, this day is called "Shrove Tuesday" or "Pancake Day". Here is the information I have found on Shrove Tuesday:
Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the ritual of shriving that Christians used to undergo in the past. In shriving, a person confesses their sins and receives absolution for them.
Shrove Tuesday is a day of celebration as well as penitence, because it's the last day before Lent.
Lent is a time of abstinence, of giving things up. So Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to indulge yourself, and to use up the foods that aren't allowed in Lent.
During Lent there are many foods that some Christians - historically and today - would not eat: foods such as meat and fish, fats, eggs, and milky foods.
So that no food was wasted, families would have a feast on the shriving Tuesday, and eat up all the foods that wouldn't last the forty days of Lent without going off.
The need to eat up the fats gave rise to the French name Mardi Gras ('fat Tuesday'). Pancakes became associated with Shrove Tuesday as they were a dish that could use up all the eggs, fats and milk in the house with just the addition of flour. (source)
Today, they kids had a free pancake breakfast at school to celebrate Shrove Tuesday.
I think it is great to learn about, celebrate and incorporate celebrations of your host nation. My kids were very excited to experience their first Pancake Day.
But, most importantly, they must remember their roots. And that is why, tonight for dinner, there will be jambalaya!
Laissez les bon temps rouler!! Ayeeeeee!