Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent begins, is so named because of the custom of shriving. (Shrove is the past tense of shrive, just as drove is the past tense of drive.)
To shrive, according to the Online Dictionary, is “to hear the confession of and give absolution to a penitent” or “to obtain absolution for (oneself) by confessing and doing penance.”
From this custom has come the term “short shrift.” Originally it meant paying scant attention to hearing someone’s confession of sins. The term has broadened to simply mean paying little attention to people, tasks or issues.
In researching Shrove Tuesday, I learned it’s also called Pancake Day in the United Kingdom. A UK custom is to serve pancakes right before the beginning of the abstemious season of Lent, in which folks often forego decadent indulgences such as foods containing fat or sugar.
To get a second source on Pancake Day, this morning I went straight to someone who was sure to know: Australian Dianne Bunt. Along with Austrian husband Werner Bunt, she owns The Kitchen, a delightful teashop in the market town of Minchinhampton, England. (Patrons sometimes even see Princess Anne ride by on her horse.)
I sent Dianne an IM around 3:15 “Minch time,” asking if they were serving pancakes. I really didn't expect an answer for at least a few hours, as The Kitchen does a brisk trade. I thought she’d be busy flipping pancakes, pouring coffee or tea or presiding over the cash register.
Dianne, however, can multitask with the best of them. Within two minutes, I had her answer: “Certainly are. Lemon and sugar or chocolate, hazelnut and whipped cream! Pancakes are selling like hotcakes.”
Loved her humor. It reminded me to never, ever give Dianne's friendship short shrift.
Photo special to the Sentinel
The proprietors and staff of The Kitchen in Minchinhampton, a cozy Cotswald town in England, dished up pancakes today in honor of Shrove Tuesday. (Taken during a celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee last summer, this photo is by Barrie Roberts, The Darkroom, Cheltenham.)