What is Shrove Tuesday and why do we eat pancakes?

What is Shrove Tuesday and why do we eat pancakes?

By Aura McMenamin and Maurice Garvey

To celebrate Pancake Tuesday, The Echo visited The Mess Cafe in Inchicore to take on board some recommendations for pancake mixes – sampling one or two bites on the way, purely for research purposes of course!

Located at historical Richmond Barracks, The Mess is a relatively new hidden gem  - opening in 2017, after it was redeveloped by Dublin City Council as part of the 2016 centenary programme.

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It is one of three cafes under the social enterprise Walk banner, along with the Green Kitchen in Walkinstown and the Rediscovery Centre in Ballymun, which all empower people with disabilities. 

The Mess head chef Audrey Hernon and staff took time out of their busy schedule to whip up some pancakes for The Echo – providing us with some traditional pancake treats and a few more daring and delicious variations.

Walk service users Evan McLoughlin, Margaret Keogh and Kevin Murphy, helped staff in the café with the pancake bonanza, showcasing their culinary skills in the process.

Watch our video about pancake making at The Mess Cafe in Inchicore! How do you like your pancakes? 


Why do we eat pancakes on a Tuesday?

The mouths of many people across Ireland have been watering in anticipation of Pancake Tuesday on February 14.

But why do we eat pancakes on a Tuesday in February or March? Well, the answer lies in religion.

Yes, like everyone’s other favourite day of the year, Christmas, this day stems from centuries-old religious tradition.

What is Shrove Tuesday?

Shrove Tuesday is the day preceding Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent.

Shrove Tuesday has become the last day for celebration and feasting before Lent or the 40 days before Easter, where practitioners of the Christian faith fast or abstain from food that gives pleasure.

The forty days represent the time after Jesus rose from the dead and fasted in the desert where he resisted the temptation of Satan.

Shrove Tuesday is derived from the word “shrive”, which means to confess and receive absolution. The name means a period of cleansing, where a person “brings their lusts and appetites under subjection through abstention and self-sacrifice”.

So where do pancakes come into Shrove Tuesday? Shrove Tuesday originated in Medieval Times and was the last opportunity to use up ‘restricted’ items such as milk, eggs and fats before embarking on the fast.  The English tradition of cooking up pancakes came as they were the perfect way of using up these ingredients.

In France, the consumption of all fats and fatty foods on this day coined the name “Fat Tuesday” or Mardi Gras – a hugely popular holiday in the US state of Louisiana, a former French colony.

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