While Shrove Tuesday (February 17, 2015) may be an excuse for many of us to gorge on stacks of pancakes with lashings of maple syrup (or a squeeze of lemon and sprinkle of sugar for traditionalists), it has historic meaning for Christians around the world.
Here in the UK, we like to celebrate the last day before Lent by stuffing ourselves silly – and it’s much the same across the globe. But how do other Christian countries celebrate with food on this famous day?
The Danes don’t tend to celebrate on Tuesday and, instead, enjoy “Fastelavn” the last Sunday before lent. Traditionally, they like to enjoy Danish buns, which have the middle removed. The buns will then be filled with whipped cream and jam.
Meanwhile, lots of children will dress up and meet up to play “hit the cat out of the barrel”, an old game which involved bashing a barrel with a live cat inside. These days there’s no longer a cat involved – children now hit a barrel until it breaks and scatters sweets across the floor.
This is a city that knows how to celebrate! Shrove Tuesday is also known as Mardi Gras (it literally translates as Fat Tuesday) and the colourful Mardi Gras parade in New Orleans involves plenty of fun and dancing in the before the long Lenten fast.
The New Orleans spectacular stars a host of characters including the King of the Carnival and the Monarch of Merriment, as well as Comus, the God of Revelry. Many people dress up in eye-catching costumes and a spectacular ball is held. It’s too late to join the festivities this year, but if you’re up for a timeshare holiday unlike any other, book early for New Orleans’ Mardi Gras 2016! The food in this city is fantastic and the live music is legendary, too.
In France, there is a saying that eating crepes on Candlemas Day (or February 2) will bring a year of happiness. The French celebrate Candlemas – their version of Shrove Tuesday – and remember the traditions of farm people who used to bring back candles from church to ward off evil spirits and ensure there was a good crop year.
It’s customary to eat crepes on this day, although they must also be tossed with a coin in the hand to ensure prosperity all-year-round.
In Canada, objects with symbolic value are baked into the pancakes – coins, wedding rings, buttons. The finders of the coins are believed to go on to be rich, the finder of the ring will be the first married and the finder of the button will go on to be a seamstress or tailor.