The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany’s Shrove Tuesday’s pancake supper Feb. 28 will be open to the entire community. It’s usually just a parish event, but this year the Vestry has extended the invitation to the community at large.
Epiphany will prepare and serve pancakes and sausage from 5 to 7 p.m. at the church, 230 Scioto St. Carry-out will be available. There is no charge for the meal; donations are welcome.
Guests should use the Kenton Street entrance, which is handicapped accessible. Inside, an elevator provides access to the lower level dining room.
The Shrove Tuesday tradition is ancient. That Tuesday precedes Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the forty-day Lenten period of prayer and penance leading up to Holy Week and Easter. It gets its name from the word “shrive” which means “absolve”.
The Ecclesiastical Institutes, written by Elfric Enysham in 1000 A.D., explains what once took place in early Christian communities: “In the week immediately before Lent, everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive (absolve him) so he then may hear…what he is to do in the way of penance.
Since Lent in many Christian fellowships is a time of fasting, Shrove Tuesday was often celebrated with a meal of favorite foods, frequently pancakes, symbolizing the last opportunity to indulge in rich dishes which would be given up during Lent.
In the American South, Shrove Tuesday is celebrated as Mardi Gras, French for “Fat Tuesday”. It is considered a carnival, from the medieval Latin, “carnelevarium” which means to take away meat. The tradition came to this country with French explorers who settled the coast of Louisiana. Their first small observance was held in 1666 at a site they named Point du Mardi Gras near the present New Orleans.
Four centuries later, Fat Tuesday’s feasting, masked balls, jazz music and processions of the fantastically-costumed are still going strong in that city.
The Epiphany event involves neither confession, absolution or penance nor masked balls and costumed dancing in the street. It’s just the sharing of an ancient and tasty tradition with friends.