Before going on a fast, indulge on Pancake Day
I recently learned about a Christian eating tradition called Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday.
Christian living professor Clyde Nolasco, content manager and columnist of the digital evangelization website DominusEst.Ph, explains this is a traditional feast day held before Lent, which always begins on a Wednesday—Ash Wednesday. It is observed not only by Catholics but by many Christians, including Anglicans, Lutherans and Methodists.
In terms of feeding your soul, it is called Shrove Tuesday because, as the day before the beginning of Lent, this is when the faithful will go to confession and be absolved or “shriven” from their sins (an Anglo-Saxon term). Historically, a bell would be rung to call people to confession.
This day is also considered the last day of “fat eating” or “gorging.” It’s the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats that would not be consumed in the 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter.
Hence, people made pancakes. And so Shrove Tuesday also came to be known as Pancake Day.
The ingredients for pancakes also have significance: eggs symbolize creation; flour represents life; salt signifies wholesomeness; while milk signifies purity.
In the United Kingdom, a pancake race is even part of the Shrove Tuesday tradition. Contestants race to get to the finish line while flipping pancakes in a frying pan.
Of course it must be remembered that this is in preparation for Lent, whereby fasting and abstinence will take place. It is easy to confuse these two concepts, so just to refresh your vocabulary: fasting is the reduction of one’s intake of food, while abstinence refers to refraining from meat (or another type of food). Those on a plant-based diet are already on abstinence all year-round and should maybe get additional plenary indulgence.
Remember, too, that the point of fasting and abstinence is penance, and not to lose weight. So the fast must necessarily be done with a matching spiritual fast from sin.
That means, according to St. Basil, “estrangement from evil, temperance of tongue, abstinence from anger, separation from desires, slander, falsehood and perjury.” Translated to today’s language, it is also fasting from spreading fake news.
But until Shrove, or Pancake Tuesday, Feb. 25, the faithful are technically allowed to indulge so we can even eat all the “chicharon” and bacon we want as we commemorate the Edsa People Power Revolution. Following tradition, we can even indulge in pancakes.
Then on Ash Wednesday, Feb. 26, we fast and pray for our country. May you all have a blessed and meaningful Lenten season ahead. And may you have a delicious and indulgent Pancake Tuesday—whether before or after you confess.
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