The supermarkets have had bags of sugar, flour and squeezy lemon bottles out for the last couple of weeks. Where there's a religious festival, there's a marketing opportunity. But what's it all about?
Pancake Day is really Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins and we think about what we might have given up if we'd thought about it in time. But our British version of the 'carnival' – from the Latin for 'farewell to meat' – is a pale and feeble thing, even with maple syrup, compared to the weird and wonderful variations on Mardi Gras around the world. Read More
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Mardi Gras in New Orleans has become a bacchanal, "an occasion of wild and drunken revelry," accompanied by "open and unrestrained sexual activity," and punctuated by random acts of violence. Since the 1980s the revelry has persisted well into Ash Wednesday and the first week of Lent.In Pass Christian--a town on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, which is less than an hour's drive from New Orleans and which has its own Carnival season parades as do many of the towns surrounding New Orleans 2 people were killed and four injured in a shooting on a parade route. In Mandeville, the town where I used to live, which is a 30 minute drive from New Orleans across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the parades had to be rerouted on a number of occasions due to the increasing unruliness of the crowds of young people gathered in front of the town's bars, convenience stores, and daquairi shops. They would throw beer cans and other hard objects at the passing floats and their riders and scream obscenities at the marching bands and the dance squads.
In France the tradition is to eat pancakes on Candlemas--the Feast of the Presentation of our Lord in the Temple, on February 2.