Churches host pancake dinners to kick off lent

Published 1:03 am Saturday, February 2, 2008

NATCHEZ — On Tuesday night, while many are nursing hangovers or cleaning fading face paint, local churches will be celebrating Fat Tuesday in a slightly different fashion.

They’ll be flipping pancakes.

To usher in the start of the Lenten season, area churches will be having pancake dinners as part of their Shrove Tuesday celebrations.

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In many Christian traditions the start of lent, on Ash Wednesday, normally marks the start of 40 days of some type of fasting.

During the Lenten season things like sweets, meat and other indulgences are often given up in sacrifice.

Hundreds of years ago the Anglo-Saxon Christians devised a way to empty their cupboards of temptations before the start of lent — they made pancakes.

To many, pancakes might not sound like a decadent meal before 40 days of fasting but the ingredients in pancakes are representative of rich food items from the period.

Trinity Episcopal Church’s Rev. Chip Davis said the pancakes are actually quite symbolic.

“They have all the things that would be a temptation during lent,” he said. “Eggs, milk, sugar and fat would not have been used during lent.”

So on the day before lent begins, all the tempting ingredients are consumed in a meal meant to stave 40 days worth of upcoming temptation.

Good Shepherd Episcopal Church’s vicar, Rev. James Benbrook, said he has been celebrating Shrove Tuesday for 46 years.

“It’s a chance for our church to come together in a festive time and give thanks,” he said.

For the past 14 years Benbrook said he has been celebrating Shrove Tuesday with the congregants at Good Shepherd.

And in that time Benbrook has come up with a very succinct way to describe the festivities.

“We just get together and make a bunch of pancakes,” he said.

Benbrook’s meal will conclude with a brief prayer service.

“For us it’s a good way to prepare for lent,” he said.