December is a month that seems to last only days, as we are caught up in the whirlwind preparations for Christmas and the New Year, juggling parties with friends and colleagues and trying to fit in your shopping (how did we manage before the internet?) and remembering to get the turkey. After the climax of New Year’s Eve, January descends like a funeral pall. No parties, no rushing about and the long, dark days drawn out by the self-imposed penitence of no drinking, giving up smoking or the more recent trends of Veganuary and even Januhairy (not shaving one’s body hair). Thirty one days feels like thirty one weeks as we sleep walk through the month. And then February arrives, a month where the merry-go-round speeds up again. Daylight is noticeably longer. The days speed by and as I write, we are already nearly half way through the month. Adverts on the telly for perfumes and chocolates remind us that Valentine’s Day is just about upon us. Confectionery on the supermarkets shelves tell us Easter is not far away, but amid all this frantic scribbling in my diary, as sudden panic strikes me.
My Facebook “memories” page reminds me that February is a time for tossing pancakes and yet I can’t find any mention of Pancake Day anywhere. Nothing in the papers or on the tv or radio. Not even any pleas from the children to have friends round for Pancake Day, though this may be more to do with the fact they are now both fully fledged surly teenagers would wouldn’t dare be seen doing something so uncool as making pancakes in their spare time, or posting it on their Insta page?!? A quick bit of delving on Google reveals Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday to be correct, falls on Tuesday, 5th. March this year. March! Why? Surely it always falls in February? Well, Shrove Tuesday (or Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras) is tied to Easter, which in turn is tied to the phases of the Moon. This confuses me, as it is the commemoration of the death and resurrection of Christ, so as with his birth, surely it should fall on a dedicated date? I have done some research, but now my brain is hurting as the explanations seem even more confused than I am. In a nutshell, Easter can fall on any Sunday between 22nd March and the 25th. April within seven days after a full moon. Easter Monday was declared a public holiday so that people could have a lie down and recover from the head spinning confusion. It’s no wonder the true meaning of Easter has been lost and now, like Christmas, is associated with eating a lot of chocolate. Shrove Tuesday is the traditional feast ahead of a forty day fast that precedes Easter Sunday. But again all that has been lost and it’s now known as Pancake Day, though I suppose there is a tenuous link between the eggs used to make pancakes and the Easter eggs that signify life? Or maybe I’ll go with the intellectual analysis that accompanied an episode of “The Only Way Is Essex” a few years ago, when some of the county’s finest minds were debating why they were making pancakes, when one of them proudly declared it was a tradition to celebrate “Saint Pancake”. Tossers.