Tuesday, March 4, 2014
It's the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of lent. In the U.K. we celebrate it by making what the French and Americans would call Crepe's. We call them pancakes.
I remember being in Primary School [Elementary] and feeling like the day would drag by because I was looking forward to the pancakes that evening. It seems such a small thing but it was a fun time. If I remember correctly that is all we would eat. We part ran, part walked home, pushed through the door and shouted "Pancakes!" Poor Mum.
We would always wait until Dad came home from work but Mum would start making them before he arrived. We would pour sugar, treacle and syrup all over them, smile at each other and enjoy. Often my brothers and I would argue over who ate the first one, so usually I think this went to Dad. Every year we celebrated it the same way. An evening of desert. What could be better?
When I moved to America in 2002 I was horrified to find that this wasn't a day particularly celebrated here. At least not in the same way. In the U.S. a lot of places celebrate mardi gras but being a Brit I missed the simplicity of Pancake Day. I stayed with families for the first few years in the States and would insist on making them pancakes.
One time I asked if they could get the ingredients because I was coming back from work late and then I would make it for them. It was a disaster because the recipe was for American pancakes not crepes. In a culture decidedly similar there are vast differences and these show up most frequently in the little things. I've never lived that moment down. To this day when I see my 'adopted american family' and the subject of Pancake days come up there will always be a friendly jibe.
Later I became part of a home group at my church. We were a group of between 10-20 people and every pancake day I would insist on making pancakes for everyone. I made the same mistake in forgetting they needed to be told they were crepes. Fortunately I bought the ingredients this time. I would arrive back from work around 4.30 and make crepes for two hours before people began arriving. Sometimes I made over 60. The first year they walked in and realized they were crepes but they liked these as well so all was not lost!
The home group would bring sides such as strawberries and other sweeteners. It was a very fun time and I loved the fact I was able to share with Americans how Brits celebrate shrove Tuesday. For me a big part of it is meeting together with community, remembering the lent season but having fun and celebrating as a family. It's not as big as Christmas or Easter but it does make for fond memories.