Many of us will be gorging on pancakes today as the result of an interesting cultural evolution. The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday is alternately known as Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, and Mardis Gras. In the Commonwealth countries and Ireland, it is even called Pancake Tuesday or Pancake day.
Christians have a knack for taking secular objects and turning them into symbols that point to God, and we can even do that with a pancake. The pancake is said to symbolize the Christian faith, with eggs representing creation, flour the bread of life, salt wholesomeness, and white milk purity. But the real reason we eat pancakes on this day is that it is common for Christians to refrain from fatty foods, butter, and eggs during Lent. Thus, people scurry to use up any remaining such ingredients prior to Ash Wednesday. The tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday may have begun as early as the 16th century.
Tomorrow, we will enter the Lenten season with stomachs full and hearts and minds longing to be filled. Please join Ancient Paths Literary Magazine for a meditative Lent. Several Lenten-themed poems will be published throughout the season. Be sure to "like" the Facebook page or check it weekly so you won't miss new work when it is posted.