Lent is a season of reflection, lasting for the 40 days prior to Easter in the Christian calendar. During Lent, Christians aim to replicate Jesus’ sacrifice in the desert for 40 days. As with many religious festivals, food plays a significant role.
In ancient times, Christians celebrating Lent would observe a strict fast for the entirety of Lent, eating one meal per day with two smaller snacks. Any foods seen as being decedent such as meat, eggs, butter and fish were banned as an act of penitence.
The day before Lent the beginning of Lent is known as Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras (which is French for Fat Tuesday). Traditionally, this day was a celebration, seen as the last chance to feast before Lent. Believers would celebrate with their families, using up foods which they would not be able to eat during the Lenten period. Pancakes became associated with Shrove Tuesday for this reason, as they were a dish that could use up all the eggs, fats and milk in the house with just the addition of flour.
The following day, Ash Wednesday would see the beginning of the fast.Today, few people fast for the whole of Lent, although many maintain the practice on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, the day that Jesus died. It is now more common for believers to give up a particular vice for the duration of lent, such as confectionery, alcohol or smoking.
The end of Lent is celebrated in different ways around the world. In the United Kingdom, there is a tradition of eating hot cross buns on Good Friday. These are yeast dough buns with currants and raisins which feature a cross on their top, symbolizing how Jesus died on the cross.Eggs are a big part of Easter celebrations around the world. For Christians, eggs represent new live, a way of remembering how Jesus resurrected from the dead. In ancient times, many would gift loved ones with decorated eggs. Since then, chocolate eggs have become the norm, and these are given as gifts on Easter Sunday. In the United States, where chocolate eggs are not given as the norm, there are other egg- related traditions, such as the egg roll which takes place at the White House.
The main course for many Easter dinners in Europe is roast lamb, a tradition which traces its origins to Jewish Passover feasts. Ham is more common in the United States. This tradition has practical origins, as in the years before refrigeration, salted pork would remain unspoiled.
Fancy cooking up a few of these delectable treats? For a healthier Shrove Tuesday, try our banana or oat pancakes. Fancy including some eggs in your diet? This menu has everything you need to have an excellent meal. Enjoy!