Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Pre-Lent Celebrations

Thought I'd get us in the mood for Lent :-) Not that I'm Catholic (I'm not but my dh is) but the way we humans celebrate holidays or religious events with food fascinates me. So I did a bit of research...

From Wikipedia: Shrove Tuesday is a term commonly known in English-speaking countries associated with the United Kingdom and its Anglican traditions, especially Canada, Ireland, Australia[1], New Zealand, and parts of the United States[2] for the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of the Christian season of fasting and prayer called Lent.

The word shrove is the past tense of the English verb shrive, which means to obtain absolution for one's sins by way of confession and doing penance. During the week before Lent, sometimes called Shrovetide in English, Christians were expected to go to confession in preparation for the penitential season of turning to God. Shrove Tuesday was the last day before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday, and noted in histories dating back to 1000 AD. The popular celebratory aspect of the day had developed long before the Protestant Reformation, and was associated with releasing high spirits before the somber season of Lent. It is analogous to the continuing Carnival tradition associated with Mardi Gras (and its various names in different countries) that continued separately in European Catholic countries.

In the United States, the term "Shrove Tuesday" is less widely known outside of people who observe the liturgical traditions of the Episcopal, Lutheran, and Roman Catholic Churches. Because of the increase in many immigrant populations and traditions since the 19th century, and the rise of highly publicized festivals, Mardi Gras has become more familiar as the designation for that day.

In the United Kingdom and many other countries, the day is often known simply as Pancake Day. Making and eating such foods was considered a last feast with ingredients such as sugar, fat and eggs, whose consumption was traditionally restricted during the ritual fasting associated with Lent.

A Festy cock is a Scottish dish made of a ball of finely ground meal, wetted and patted, rolled into a pancake shape, then roasted in the hot ashes from a mill kiln. This was a dish to be eaten at Shrovetide

For German American populations, such as Pennsylvania Dutch Country, it is known as Fastnacht Day (also spelled Fasnacht, Fausnacht, Fauschnaut, or Fosnacht). The Fastnacht is made from fried potato dough and served with dark corn syrup. In John Updike's novel Rabbit, Run, the main character remembers a Fosnacht Day tradition in which the last person to rise from the table would be teased by the other family members and called a Fosnacht.

In Hawaii, this day is also known as Malasada Day, which dates back to the days of the sugar plantations of the 1800s. The resident Catholic Portuguese workers used up butter and sugar prior to Lent by making large batches of malasada, a fried dough.

In Iceland the day is known as Sprengidagur (Bursting Day) and is marked by eating salt meat and peas.

In Lithuania the day is called Užgavėnės. People eat pancakes (blynai) and Lithuanian-style doughnuts called spurgos.

In heavily Polish Catholic areas of the United States, such as Chicago and the Detroit suburb of Hamtramck, Pączki Day is celebrated with pączki eating contests, music and other Polish food. (The custard is my favorite :-) I allow myself one on Fat Tuesday (with a calorie count at 420 for these luscious treats you know why.))

In Sweden, the day is marked by eating a traditional pastry, called semla or
fastlagsbulle, a sweet bun filled with almond paste and whipped cream. Originally, the pastry was only eaten on this day. It was sometimes served in a bowl of hot milk. Eventually the tradition evolved to eating the bun on each Tuesday of Lent leading up to Easter. After the Reformation, the Protestant Swedes no longer observed a "strict" Lent with fasting ritual.

Clearly, we have very few holidays that aren't associated with eating so go forth and sample all the world's delicacies but keep your hands off the custard paczki -- that one's mine! :-)


-- Lynda Again

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