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February 22nd, 2012
12:06 AM ET

Faithful prepare for Lent with pancake feast, race

By Stacey Samuel, CNN Producer

Washington (CNN) – Tuesday at the Washington National Cathedral, school children alongside clergy competed in a pancake tossing relay race. It was an exercise in religious fun, the day before Ash Wednesday.

"It is the last opportunity to feast, and be merry before we enter the Holy season of Lent, which is the time of abstinence and reflection," said Reverend Jan Naylor Cope, vicar at the National Cathedral, who took part in the races herself.

Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras by a different name, Shrove Tuesday is the Anglican Church’s pre-Lenten celebration before kicking off the 40-day fast leading up to Easter Sunday. The origin of the word “shrove” is believed to be a derivation of “shriving” which means to ask for forgiveness.

But why a pancake race? Shrove Tuesday traditionally is the day that Christians emptied out their cupboards that would be filled with flour, sugar, eggs and other dessert ingredients which had to be used before observers began their Lenten sacrifice.

Winner of the first heat, flipping her pancake without dropping the disk, was 7-year-old Ellie Knight. When asked what she'd be giving up for Lent, she says "Apples, they're my favorite."

For her efforts, Knight was given a gold-sprayed spatula.

The rules of the race: each pancake had to be tossed three times in their pan, while running to the finish line. The folklore goes that upon hearing the church bell, to attend the first Lenten service, a woman in rural England was so consumed by cooking her pancakes she ran from her house, frying pan in hand, flipping her flapjacks all the way.

Typically, Shrove Tuesday is a popular event in countries that were once under the British Empire. The celebration is particularly popular in Australia, New Zealand, Ireland and Canada.

Canon Ralph Godsall, from Westminster Abbey in the United Kingdom, took part in the festivities this year as an honored guest –donning a jester-like hat, embroidered with the British flag. He said he’s never participated in a pancake run anywhere in the world, until this year at the Washington National Cathedral. Having his wife send what he called a "funny hat" was all he had done to prepare for the race.

"It's just about remembering that before we get into the serious stuff of Lent, and Holy Week and Easter, we live with and work with a God who knows how to laugh and celebrate and to enjoy being alive," said Godsall.

The Canon did not win his race.

But, there to defend his church’s title was the Reverend Matthew Hanisian of St Alban’s Parish. Dressed in his robes Hanisian, won his first race.

"This is all in good fun, but we're really here to win," said Hanisian.

In the end, St. Alban's took home the golden pan, the crown and the Mrs. Butterworth prize. Sweet victory.

- Dan Merica

Filed under: Anglican • DC • Holidays • Lent • United States

soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.

    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.

    Prayer makes you fat.

    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.

    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.

    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.

    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.

    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.

    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.

    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.

    Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.

    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.

    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.

    Prayer dulls your senses.

    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.

    Prayer makes you hoard cats.

    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.

    Prayer wastes time.

    February 22, 2012 at 9:08 pm |
  2. Rachel

    This season of lent it is about Abstinence and Reflection and that sums it right.
    Let the 40 days of purpose begin...

    February 22, 2012 at 1:39 pm |
  3. PrayerandSacreefice

    Psalm 23 King James Bible
    1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
    3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
    4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
    5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
    6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
    • PrayerandSacreefice

      1 The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?
      2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell.
      3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:38 pm |
    • PrayerandSacreefice

      1 LORD, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations.
      2 Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.
      3 Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayest, Return, ye children of men.
      4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
      5 Thou carriest them away as with a flood; they are as a sleep: in the morning they are like grass which groweth up.
      6 In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.
      7 For we are consumed by thine anger, and by thy wrath are we troubled.
      8 Thou hast set our iniquities before thee, our secret sins in the light of thy countenance.
      9 For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: we spend our years as a tale that is told.
      10 The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.
      11 Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.
      12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
      13 Return, O LORD, how long? and let it repent thee concerning thy servants.
      14 O satisfy us early with thy mercy; that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
      15 Make us glad according to the days wherein thou hast afflicted us, and the years wherein we have seen evil.
      16 Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their children.
      17 And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: and establish thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  4. Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
    Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
    Prayer makes you fat.
    Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
    Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
    Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
    Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
    Prayer reveals how stupid you are to the world.
    Prayer exposes your backside to pervert priests.
    Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
    Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
    Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
    Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
    Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
    Prayer dulls your senses.
    Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
    Prayer makes you hoard cats.
    Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
    Prayer wastes time.

    February 22, 2012 at 11:34 am |
    • PrayerandSacreefice

      OUR Father, who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy Name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, As it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, As we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation; But deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever and ever. Amen.

      WE praise thee, O God; we acknowledge thee to be the Lord.
      All the earth doth worship thee, the Father everlasting.
      To thee, all Angels cry aloud; the Heavens, and all the Powers therein.
      To thee, Cherubim and Seraphim continually do cry,
      Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
      Heaven and earth are full of the Majesty of thy Glory.
      The glorious company of the Apostles praise thee.
      The goodly fellowship of the Prophets praise thee.
      The noble army of Martyrs praise thee.
      The holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge thee;
      The Father, of an infinite Majesty;
      Thine adorable, true, and only Son;
      Also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter.
      Thou art the King of Glory, O Christ.
      Thou art the everlasting Son of the Father.
      When thou tookest upon thee to deliver man, thou didst humble thyself to be born of a Virgin.
      When thou hadst overcome the sharpness of death, thou didst open the Kingdom of Heaven to all believers.
      Thou sittest at the right hand of God, in the Glory of the Father.
      We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge.
      We therefore pray thee, help thy servants, whom thou hast redeemed with thy precious blood.
      Make them to be numbered with thy Saints, in glory everlasting.
      O Lord save thy people and bless thine heritage.
      Govern them and lift them up for ever.
      Day by day we magnify thee;
      And we worship thy Name ever world without end.
      Vouchsafe, O Lord, to keep us this day without sin.
      O Lord, have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us.
      O Lord let thy mercy be upon us as our trust is in thee.
      O Lord in thee have I trusted let me never be confounded.

      O MOST mighty and gracious good God, thy mercy is over thy works,. but in special manner bath been extended towards us, whom thou hast so powerfully and wonderfully defended. Thou hast showed us terrible things, and wonders in the deep, that we might see how powerful and gracious a God thou art; how able and ready to help those who trust in thee. Thou hast showed us how both winds and seas obey thy command; that we may learn, even from them, hereafter to obey thy voice, and to do thy will. We therefore bless and glorify thy Name, for this thy mercy in saving us, when we were ready to perish. And, we beseech thee, make us as truly sensible now of thy mercy, as we were then of the danger. And give us hearts always ready to express our thankfulness, not only by words, but also by our lives, in being more obedient to thy holy commandments. Continue, we beseech thee, this thy goodness to us; that we, whom thou hast saved, may serve thee in holiness and righteousness all the days of our life; through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:33 pm |
  5. RightTurnClyde

    Since I do not put much on lent and fasting, this lenten season I will not toot in elevators (the silent type that shocks the sinuses and make them gasp for air). I will not cuss at drivers who are going 50 mph on the freeway or even the ones typing a three paged text to their boss. I will only accept the healthy samples at Costco (and avoid their hot dogs and pizza). I will play both 12 bar blues and 8 bar beginning with Midnight Special (this Friday). I will play Bluesette for the >70 audiences at retirement homes. I will not flip off the CHP when I see them.

    February 22, 2012 at 11:07 am |
  6. AGuest9

    More christian numerology. 3, 6, 7, 12, 40. No so fast, Albert, there MAY be dice involved, after all. ;)

    February 22, 2012 at 9:19 am |
  7. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things

    February 22, 2012 at 7:25 am |
    • Prayer is not healthy for children and other living things

      Prayer takes people away from actually working on real solutions to their problems.
      Prayer prevents you from getting badly needed exercise.
      Prayer makes you fat.
      Prayer wears out your clothes prematurely.
      Prayer contributes to global warming through excess CO2 emissions.
      Prayer fucks up your knees and your neck and your back.
      Prayer can cause heart attacks, especially among the elderly.
      Prayer makes you think doilies are exciting.
      Prayer makes you secretively flatulent and embarrassed about it.
      Prayer makes your kids avoid spending time with you.
      Prayer gives you knobbly knees.
      Prayer makes you frothy like Rick Santorum. Just google him to find out.
      Prayer dulls your senses.
      Prayer makes you post really stupid shit.
      Prayer makes you hoard cats.
      Prayer makes you smell like shitty kitty litter and leads you on to harder drugs.
      Prayer wastes time.

      February 22, 2012 at 11:35 am |
  8. Zombie Squirrels Will Feast Upon Your Nuts

    It's only 40 more days until ZOMBIE DAY!!!!

    Yes, soon the Zombie Bunny will leave little brown things for children to find and eat (only religion could have come up with a really bad idea like that), and leave eggs, because rabbits of course lay eggs, and everyone will praise, praise, PRAISE Jesus' transformation into a zombie god!

    Kowtow now to the zombie god, who loves you but might burn you for eternity anyway for sins you don't know you are commiting. Jesus is rather fickle for a zombie, so don't mess around! Ashes on the forehead, on your knees, lie to little children about the Bunny (why do Christian holidays usually involve lying to children about non-existent beings – wait, I think I know the answer to that), and PRAISE ZOMBIE JESUS!

    But watch out for the zombie squirrels.

    February 22, 2012 at 1:34 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Have fun!

      February 22, 2012 at 5:56 am |
    • Bankerlady

      Wow. Maybe all that energy would be better used by researching the answers to your, uh, questions, rather than by spreading hate based purely on ignorance. Just a thought.

      February 22, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • EvolvedDNA

      Ah yes... the pagan rebirth..its really a celebration of spring. It was the way that knowledge was passed on from one generation to the other. This was life and death to our ancestors if it was not timed correctly... along with the other stories taken from the ancients, Christianity used this story and worked rebirth into the Jesus myth....

      February 22, 2012 at 7:02 pm |
  9. Downton Abbey 101

    Those Episcopalians SURE know how to have fun ! One might actually believe they are joyful people. Amazing.

    February 22, 2012 at 12:53 am |
    • Nii Croffie

      Well we are! We sure are! Cud u get to ur local Episcopal/Anglican church for Easter Monday Picnic or Pageant? Sweet

      February 22, 2012 at 5:59 am |
  10. Reality

    Tis Ash Wednesday and I am going to gorge on a dozen of Dunkin's Bavarian cream donuts to make up for all the years of senseless atoning sacrifices since the great atoner supposedly did that for me many years ago.

    February 22, 2012 at 12:17 am |
    • AGuest9

      Since there is nothing to atone for.

      February 22, 2012 at 9:20 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.