Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Shrive(n), Shrove, and Pancakes

In middle English the word "shrive" meant "to confess one's sins, and to receive priestly absolution (and penances)  on the day before Ash Wednesday.
Hence that day became known as "Shrove Tuesday" i.e. the day on which one was "shriven".
The word survived the Protestant reformation in England, and although the "Romish" practices of auricular confession, absolution and penance were rightly  abandoned in favour of the gospel message of "free salvation" in the name and grace of Jesus Christ, the "Shrove Tuesday" tradition would not die.

It "hung in there" via the old tradition of using up eggs and oils for Lent in favour of the meatless days of Lent.
What do you do with eggs and oils?  You make pancakes!

That tradition was so deeply rooted in English and Welsh (but not Scottish) consciousness that even in deeply protestant Churches  (such as the Plymouth Brethren in which I was raised), we had pancakes on Shrove Tuesday (which we called "Pancake Day").

But these were not the indigestible and globby "pancakes" of the American tradition (the ones which have to be drowned in genuine Maple syrup or faus Sugar syrups to be made palatable.

In truth they were really "*Crepes", which would be sprinkled with sugar, and with a bit of fresh squeezed lemon juice, and then rolled up.

So darn good.  What an annual treat.  And a labour of loving intensity for our Mum.

* (We probably called them "pancakes"  so that as proud Englishmen/women we would not have to use a French word!!).
American pancakes (ugh!)
U.K. pancakes/crepes (delicious!) 
Pancakes/crepes with sugar and lemon juice.  Our Shrove Tuesday "treat"

To amend an old saying:  "you can take the boy out of England, but you cannot take England out of the boy". 

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