Tuesday, February 24, 2009

It's Fat Tuesday!

The term “Mardi Gras” is French for “Fat Tuesday”. In many countries, the term Mardi Gras refers to the time period between Epiphany, or Twelfth Night and, Ash Wednesday. This time period varies from city to city, as some traditions consider Mardi Gras as the entire Carnival period while others just treat the final three-day period leading up to Ash Wednesday as being “Mardi Gras”.

Carnival is an important celebration in most of Europe, except in Ireland and the United Kingdom where the festival is called "shrovetide” ending on Shrove Tuesday, and pancakes are the traditional feasting food.

While this holiday is not nationally celebrated in the U.S., today IS a day that is recognized as Fat Tuesday….or even as “International Pancake Day”. In fact, I have been seeing that IHOP is giving away pancake dinners all day today - FOR FREE! Gosh, I LOVE this day!!

Because early generations of my family hail from European countries, our family’s traditional interpretation of “Fat Tuesday” also includes pancakes and sausage links – and plenty of it. I think my mother used to even throw in a year or two of potato pancakes – not as much my favorite as the buttermilk kind….

I was raised, and remain, a Lutheran so the practice of binging in excess prior to and then purging and doing without during the period of Lent has never really been anything we have done as part of a regular tradition but we do recognize this event by eating too many pancakes on Fat Tuesday, making an intention to give something up for the Lenten period, if we are so moved, attending Ash Wednesday service the next day and hunker down and wait for Easter.

Pretty easy. All I know is that tonight, my boys and I will gather at my mom and dad’s place, along with my sister and brother in-law and we will dine on stacks of light and fluffy carbcakes – er – pancakes.

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