The origins of Shrove Tuesday.

It’s Pancake Day here in the UK. As a child pancakes were something we ate in the run up to Easter, to herald the start of Lent. My family were fairly religious, so this was something we did partake in.

As an adult and someone who has practiced the craft for over 30 years, Pancake Day was acknowledged in my house as my children were fond of pancakes. The religious meaning behind the day had gone.

But did you know that the original celebration was a pagan festival?

The Slavs – a diverse group of tribal people, who lived throughout central and Eastern- Europe circa the 5th – 10th century – worshipped a God named Jarilo (I think it’s pronounced Yarilo). They believed that the changing of the season, from winter to spring, was a struggle between Jarilo, who was the God of vegetation, fertility and springtime, and the spirits of the cold and darkness.

They believed they had to help Jarilo win this struggle and this was a part of their spring celebration. The entire celebration lasted a week, with a large part of it making and eating pancakes. The hot, round pancakes symbolised the sun, and the Slavs believed that by eating the pancakes they would be imbued with the power, heat and warmth of the sun.

I think that is a wonderful and happy belief to have.

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