Italian Carnevale VS English Pancake Day

thumb-tileFirst of all, HAPPY PANCAKE DAY EVERYONE! Here in Italy they have no idea what I’m talking about, but you English-speaking folk do! I’ve already posted my traditional “It’s pancake day!” video of Maid Marion and her Merry Men. If you want to have a laugh, check it out:

Ciao ragazzi, BUON CARNEVALE A TUTTI! Qui in Italia non si festeggia Martedì Grasso come “Pancake Day” (=giorno dei pancake) come in Inghilterra, però anche noi abbiamo le nostre tradizioni! Il post di oggi sarà un confronto di culture tra UK e ITALIA. Enjoy!


Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is the traditional feast day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Lent – the 40 days leading up to Easter – was traditionally a time of fasting and on Shrove Tuesday, Anglo-Saxon Christians went to confession and were “shriven” (absolved from their sins). A bell would be rung to call people to confession. This came to be called the “Pancake Bell” and is still rung today. Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday, so the date varies from year to year and falls between February 3 and March 9. In 2014 Shrove Tuesday will fall on the 4th March. Shrove Tuesday was the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before embarking on the Lenten fast and pancakes are the perfect way of using up these ingredients. A pancake is a thin, flat cake, made of batter and fried in a frying pan. A traditional English pancake is very thin and is served immediately. Golden syrup or lemon juice and caster sugar are the usual toppings for pancakes.

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Pancake Day o Martedì Grasso, è il tradizionale giorno di festa prima dell’inizio della Quaresima, il Mercoledì delle Ceneri. La Quaresima – i 40 giorni che precedono la Pasqua – era tradizionalmente un periodo di digiuno. Il giorno di Martedì Grasso, i cristiani anglosassoni andavano a confessarsi e venivano “shriven” (assolti dai loro peccati). Veniva suonata una campana per chiamare la gente a confessarsi. Questa divenne col tempo chiamata “the Pancake Bell (=campana)” ed è chiamato così ancora oggiMartedì Grasso cade sempre 47 giorni prima della Domenica di Pasqua, quindi la data varia di anno in anno e cade tra il 3 febbraio e il 9 marzo. Questo giorno era l’ultimo possibile per utilizzare le uova e i grassi prima di intraprendere il digiuno quaresimale e le frittelle (pancakes) erano il modo perfetto per usare queste ingredienti.
Il pancake è una focaccia sottile, fatta di pastella e fritta in una padella. Un tradizionale frittella inglese è molto sottile ed è servito immediatamente. Golden syrup (uno sciroppo simile a quello d’acero, ma dal sapore più mieloso) o succo di limone e zucchero, sono i soliti condimenti per i pancakes.



The word carnival comes from the Latin “carnem levare” (eliminate meat) as it originally indicated the banquet that was held on the last day of Carnival (Mardi Gras), immediately before the period of fasting and abstinence of Lent. Carnival is a festival that is celebrated in countries of Christian tradition. Today, celebrations often take place in public parades that mainly feature elements of playfulness and imagination, in particular, the distinctive and characteristic feature of the carnival: the use of masking. Although present in the Catholic tradition, Carnival has a much more ancient origin: such as the Greek Dionysian (the Anthesteria) or the Roman Saturnalia. During the Dionysian festivals and Saturnalia there would be a temporary dissolution of the social obligations and hierarchies, to make way for the overthrow of the order, jokes, games and even to debauchery.

Carevale 2002

La parola carnevale deriva dal latino “carnem levare” (eliminare la carne) poiché anticamente indicava il banchetto che si teneva l’ultimo giorno di carnevale (martedì grasso), subito prima del periodo di astinenza e digiuno della Quaresima. Il carnevale è una festa che si celebra nei paesi di tradizione cristiana. I festeggiamenti si svolgono spesso in pubbliche parate in cui dominano elementi giocosi e fantasiosi; in particolare, l’elemento distintivo e caratterizzante del carnevale è l’uso del mascheramento.  Benché presente nella tradizione cattolica, i caratteri della celebrazione del Carnevale hanno origini in festività ben più antiche, come per esempio le dionisiache greche (le antesterie) o i saturnali romani. Durante le feste dionisiache e i saturnali si realizzava un temporaneo scioglimento dagli obblighi sociali e dalle gerarchie per lasciar posto al rovesciamento dell’ordine, allo scherzo e anche alla dissolutezza.


Traditional sweets/cakes during Carnevale in Italy


Chiacchiere, which means “gossip”, “rumours” are traditional Carnival sweets. Their shape is a strip, sometimes twisted into a bow or knot (in some areas in fact they take the name of bows). They are made with a mixture of flour that is baked or fried and then dusted with powdered sugar or honey or chocolate. Here is a recipe if you want to try making them, in various shapes.


Cicerchiata, another traditional Carnival sweet, it’s originally from the Abruzzi region. The cake is made ​​from a dough of flour, eggs, and in some variations, butter or olive oil, sugar, liqueur (Marsala) and lemon juice. From this little balls about an inch in diameter are made, which are then fried in olive oil or lard. Once drained, they are mixed with hot honey and positioned into a “heap”. The honey cements the balls as it cools between them and gives strength to the structure.




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