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Published: February 28th 2017
It's Shrove Tuesday, the only day of the year you can legitimately eat your weight in pancakes and not feel bad, because hey, it's lent tomorrow, when Christians fast or give up fatty foods for 40 days.
Pancakes are the traditional way for believers (and nowadays, everyone) in many European countries to rid themselves (or shrive themselves) of temptation. Get rid of butter and eggs, have a little cake and prepare for Lent. In England there are 'mob football' games in towns like Alnwick, Ashbourne, Atherstone, St Columb Major and Sedgefield. Imagine a dividing a town in two and throwing a round ball into the middle and the only rule is to get the ball to your side of town... and no eye-gouging. Pancake tossing traditions have lived on and pancake tossing races occur in Olney, Bucks. Scarborough invites everyone to skip on the foreshore. And in Whitechapel, Lancs, apparently children still go door to door asking for pancakes and are given oranges and sweets (newspaper article 2010).
So I made pancakes. Very tasty, did not toss well, swizzled with chocolate. Hom nom nom.
Elsewhere in the Shrove-celebrating world: In Croatia, Zvončari (the bellmen - think morris dancers carrying axes) follow a centuries-old route, making noise and been given alcohol by locals as they go through the villages. Kurentovanje is a Slovenian festival held in Ptuj in which men wearing sheepskin carrying wooden clubs with hedgehog skins 'chase away winter'. In Bulgaria, costumed men perform rituals to scare away evil spirits, and also in the Balkans, Romania, and Greece. Maslenitsa (Russia, Ukraine) have a pancake week (show offs).
So that was February.
A brief recap of the year celebrated so far: Countries celebrated - 36 (including 10 international events) covering Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, North, Central and South America, the Carribean and Australasia, over 60 festivals, several major religions (several minor ones), half a dozen genres of music, cinema, food, two poets, and a flag.
March is also women's history, so at the end of each blog I will be adding a little piece about a woman who I wish I'd known about when I was younger.
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