USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘shrove tuesday’
Customs
Foodways
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Shrove Day

Context

Coming from my Jewish background, I had minimal knowledge of Christian holidays besides Christmas. My informant taught me about Shrove Tuesday and the special treat associated with it.

Main Piece

So, Shrove Tuesday — S-H-R-O-V-E Tuesday, otherwise known as Pancake Day, is a religious holiday celebrated in the United Kingdom, mostly by Christians, um, but sometimes Catholics, Lutherans, etcetera etcetera. Um, basically, it’s, it’s before Lent, so it’s, it’s a holiday of self-reflection and, uh, y’know, like Thanksgiving, I guess. But basically, the whole country goes nuts, they make these pancakes, which are more like crepes, with the traditional toppings of lemon and sugar. You would drizzle, uh, lemon juice on top and then dust it with sugar, and then you would wrap it up and eat it. It’s actually really f__king good. But basically at school, every Shrove Tuesday we would get… it was like, an exciting day because you could eat something sweet that didn’t taste like wet cardboard. So that was just a fun thing that we’d all get very excited for… of course, it being school lunch it wasn’t really that yummy, anyway… but that was just a fun thing to look forward to in the school year.

shrove-tuesday-uk

 

Notes

While I had not heard of Shrove Tuesday, the interesting thing to me about this piece, as with the Guy Fawkes Day entry, was how removed the informant’s celebration of the holiday is from its origin and meaning. My informant does not come from a religious background, but looked forward to Shrove Tuesday solely because of its association with pancakes — the day was even known by the alternate name “Pancake Tuesday.” To him, the holiday had little to do with Christianity. Worldwide, particularly in the United States, Christmas has become secularized and fairly non-denominational. I would be interested to know how many children who grow up participating in festive, secular versions of these holidays end up continuing to practice the religion.

Annotation

Godlewski, Nina. “What Is the Meaning of Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday?” Newsweek, Newsweek, 5 Mar. 2019, www.newsweek.com/fat-shrove-tuesday-what-meaning-tradition-1351332.

general
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Shrove Tuesday

Main Piece: “Shrove Tuesday is…uh…the last day before Lent. Lent…uh…precedes Easter. Lent lasts about I think a month and during Lent one does not eat as much. So one is more…um…frugal about eating. So the last day before Lent is called Shrove Tuesday and on that day, people eat a lot of pancakes. And the pancakes are tossed in a pan and people like to see how high they can toss them. They usually have lemon on them…squeezed lemon…they’re very nice. And that is the only time of the year that we ate pancakes, just that one day.”

Background: The informant, who grew up in the English countryside, began celebrating Shrove Tuesday as early as he can remember, but stopped around age 16, as the tradition was dying out. He celebrated this holiday at home with family. He notes that eating pancakes was the most enjoyable part of Shrove Tuesday. When asked about the name of the holiday, the informant said “shrove” comes from “shrive” which means to “absolve,” and in terms of this holiday, he thinks it means absolving one’s sins. However, the informant says he and his family did not celebrate Shrove Tuesday in that way.

Performance Context: We spoke over the phone.

My Thoughts: The informant understands Shrove Tuesday as a dying tradition. It seems to have already taken on another form when the informant was celebrating the holiday. As the informant noted, the name “Shrove Tuesday” didn’t accurately describe the holiday he celebrated. Most interesting and special to the informant was the pancake meal, since it was a rare meal to have. As the tradition began to be less celebrated by the informant, the foodways were the only particularly noteworthy component of the holiday. I think of the ways “Shrove Tuesday” in England parallels “Fat Tuesday” in the U.S., where the same notions of celebratory eating are present before the culmination of Lent.

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