Church celebrates Shrove Tuesday

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Wednesday, March 5, 2014

JANESVILLE—Today, ashes on the forehead.

Yesterday, pancakes on the move.

On Tuesday night, members of Trinity Episcopal Church in Janesville held their annual Shrove Tuesday pancake supper, a communal meal featuring buckwheat pancakes, sausage and fellowship.

The event is a kind of pancake Mardi Gras, a last cheerful party before the 40 days of introspection, fasting and “giving-something-up” that marks the season of Lent.

This year, organizers added an extremely brief and rather impromptu pancake race to honor the traditions of the day.

That tradition comes from Olney, England, said Anne Wanke, Trinity church member.

According to the story, the Tuesday before Lent was a time to confess all sins before entering the holy season. An Olney homemaker got so caught up in her duties that she lost track of time, and only realized how late she was when the church bells starting ringing for services. She ran out her home still carrying her frying pan and wearing her apron and mob cap.

Olney has held an annual pancake race since 1445 in honor of that homemaker's sprint to the church. Even in today's races, contestants must carry a frying pan and wear an apron and cap.

Wanke made an announcement about the race while the congregation was deep into pancakes and conversation. It was unclear if anyone would abandon the pancakes on their plates for pancakes in the air.

Finally, a handful of people agreed to make the short trip from one end of the parish hall and back while flipping a flapjack. Buckwheat or plain didn't matter.

It was all over quickly.

Madelynn Schultz, 18, made a heroic effort, but lost control of her cake.

“I have to figure out the eye-hand coordination,” she said.

Although the event wasn't timed, the winner, both in spirit and in fact, was former elementary school teacher Paula DeRubeis.  

The key to her success?

“Don't let yourself get ahead of your pancake,” she said.

Words to live by.

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