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Pancake Day?!

“What happens on Tuesday?”

Tuesday is Carnival… oh no! My bad. In the UK we celebrate the Pancake Day instead.

Last Wednesday, during my Academic English Course, the lecturer pointed out that in this Tuesday we would be celebrating something. I immediately though “Carnival!” But then, so simply, she said “Pancake Day”.

I can’t say I was upset at all. I LOVE pancakes. Now and then I make pancakes for me and my housemate or she does it for us. Nonetheless, it made me think about the why pancakes are celebrated in such a recognizable way.

After some digging, I found out some interesting facts:

1) It is a Christian celebration, per say, as apparently this should be the last day people could eat something fancier, before the Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent, in celebration of Easter).

2) Eggs, fat, and butter are forbidden during Lent! That is the why people want to eat them just before they can’t anymore.

3) Initially, this was a smart way of not wasting eggs and butter, since 6 weeks (given or take) separate Shrove Tuesday from Easter.

4) Quoting other sources, apparently on this day, the egg consumption in the UK increases more than the double! I guess that’s not the original intention. Go, go consumerism!

I understand now that there are competitions around the country on pancake flipping races. That is a blast! And this leads to another interesting fact:

3) The record on flipping a pancake is on 349 flips in 2 minutes. That is talent!

Apparently, the first race dates from 1445… that is definitely an old tradition! It took place on Olney.

In Portsmouth, in case you want to participate or have a look, you’ll find celebration at the Portsmouth Cathedral on Tuesday 9, from 10 am to 4 pm. If you know more events, please leave a comment. Let our readers be aware.

 

In Portugal and several other countries, this Tuesday is celebrated in a different way. From Friday until Tuesday, people go on to the streets, dancing and exhibiting incredible costumes and pompous, colorful structures.

The most known is the Brazilian one, because of its grandeur. The Italian one, in Venice, is also very posh. But I will focus a little bit on the tradition in Portugal, just because it might not be very well known.

The celebrations in my country are very diverse. But you would be surprised to know, that the Brazilian carnival comes from Portugal, more specifically from the Madeira Island (there was great emigration from Madeira to Brazil in the past).

In Madeira, traditionally, there are two main Carnival parades: the allegoric parade, organized and structured during Saturday, whilst the second, called ‘trapalhão’ parade, is more disperse, and is up to the common people, during Tuesday.

There are more genuine traditions, as the Lazarim and Podence (Macedo de Cavaleiros), both making use of what we called the “Caretos”, lovely but frightening masks, with a slightly pagan origin.

The Podence Caretos has roots in the Roman times, in celebration of the Old Gods, especially Saturn, so the crops could be of good quality during the year. That way, the men from the villages dress up as mysterious creatures and they shake their hips, wearing belts with rattles, to bring good fortune.

 

During the Good Tuesday, usually, we also burn a doll, called “entrudo”.

 

The Lazarim Caretos are made of wood though originally it might not have been like that. The tradition here is intricate and with several takes: girls and boys read poems to each other.

 

There are hundreds of celebrations, but the one I have gone more often is closer to my parent’s home, in Torres Vedras. This Carnival is usually known as more the most authentic in Portugal. Though this might not be exactly true, it is, nonetheless, one of the oldest organized allegoric parades in Portugal ever since 1922. In some editions, some political content has been expressed, mocking and protesting against the government.

 

I am not going to extend myself and I hope this has been enlightening to you. I will appreciate my pancakes this year.

Any good recipe you want to share? Do try on adding some blueberries… it is delicious!

 

Ciao,

Inês

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2 thoughts on “Pancake Day?!

  1. I’ve been to carnival in Germany before- such a great atmosphere!
    Nowadays people just have pancake day and don’t do the lent part! Some people choose to give up a particular thing. Last year I tried to give up chocolate and it only lasted a month. That’s really good for me though!! I didn’t eat anything with chocolate in for 4 weeks haha.
    -N

  2. Yeah, I’ve heard that even in public services they also wear masks during the day.
    After speaking to a few people, I don’t even know if they knew the meaning of it. And even so, I believe that people don’t like to sacrifice themselves. Thus, religion is slowly “vanishing” from people daily lives and those traditions mean little to most. But, good effort from you. I don’t know if I could give up on coffee though ahahahahah

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