The Church of the Epiphany’s Shrove Tuesday pancake meal for the community is returning by popular demand. The 2017 event attracted about 65 people for pancakes and sausage with Marc and Shary Stadler’s homegrown maple syrup.
A repeat of the tradition and the menu is scheduled for Feb. 13 from 5 to 7 p.m. in the All Saints Room at Epiphany, 230 Scioto St. There is no charge for the event.
The Kenton Street entrance is handicapped accessible. From there, an elevator provides entry to the lower level dining room.
Why do Christians make a holiday of a particular Tuesday in February and celebrate with pancakes? One fanciful but unverified version of Shrove Tuesday’s affiliation with pancakes dates back thousands of years.
It claims that winter-weary pagans felt the god of springtime wasn’t doing as much as he could to fight the evil spirits of Cold. For a week, they consumed hot, round pancakes symbolizing the sun, believing that this would activate warmth and light and discourage the evil Cold. Sure enough, the pancakes did the trick—-Spring came every year, right on cue.
In the Christian Church, Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras), precedes Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the 40-day Lenten period of penance and fasting that leads to Easter. Early Christians were to confess their sins and be “shriven,” or absolved, on Shrove Tuesday.
But, it’s the fasting part that allegedly prompted the pancake tradition. Milk and eggs were forbidden during Lent and canny Christians consumed quantities of pancakes the night before to clear the pantry of those ingredients and temptation.
In the American South Lenten eve is a carnival – from the Latin “carnelevarium,” to take away meat. About 1665 French explorers brought the celebration to a place they called Point du Mardi Gras on the coast of Louisiana. Four centuries later, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, has evolved into a week of feasting, extravagantly-costumed parades, masked balls and jazz music.
The Epiphany event doesn’t require being shriven or costumed; it’s an opportunity to eat sausage and pancakes and socialize with friends, a tasty interpretation of an ancient tradition.