Pancake Day is big business. Pancakes for brunch, lunch, dinner or tea. Sweet or savoury, both in abundance. I’ve never quite come to terms with a dinner of savoury pancakes. Lemon and sugar; or syrup and banana are more to my taste. Maple syrup and bacon for brunch is as close to savoury as I will venture by choice. And then there’s the texture: delicate and crepe-like or a chunky American fork full?

What’s it all about? Shrove Tuesday is the eve of Lent. The dictionary tells me that ‘shrove’ is derived from the archaic verb ‘to shrive’; to present oneself for confession. The idea of eating pancakes relates to the custom of eating up the fatty stores of eggs, butter and milk before the fasting of Lent. Ironic then that the supermarkets urge us to stock up on more eggs, flour, syrup and sugar to celebrate the feast.  In other cultures it’s also a party day: the celebration of Mardi Gras, literally fat Tuesday.

‘Lent’ also takes its name from an old English word, Lencten: springtime, a time of lengthening days, growth, flowering and hope. The forty days of Lent are often known as a time of self sacrifice, giving up chocolate and alcohol always seem to feature. This granny has often been asked what I will be giving up for Lent. My usual answer is nothing. I prefer to spend time reading a Lent book, this year’s choice is ‘Saying yes to Life’, by Ruth Valerio.

This year I have also chosen to sign up to (try) to buy nothing new in Lent: For me, this will include books. So I might finally be tidying up, and hopefully finishing, the many half read books stacked on my bedside table and around my home. Once that’s done, I’ll head to the library.

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