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  • Writer's pictureharu

Pancakes, Races and Jump Totoro Mash

The 21st of February is Pancake Day in the UK, a folkloric rendition of the Christian Shrove Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday was the day a bell was rung so that Anglo-Saxon Christians could have their sins shriven (from Proto-Indo-European skrībh-) and be absolved of them before lent, in the 47-day fasting runup to Easter.

The Pancake Bell rung during the middle ages is still rung today, although perhaps in a more folkloric spirit. From the tradition that instructed using up all the goods in the pantry before the bell went off, pancakes made in a hurry gave rise to pancake-flipping races. Allegedly originating in Olney, Buckinghamshire, a legendary woman was said to have made her last pancake as she ran to the church, pan in hand, as the Pancake Bell rang.

More folkloric activities were cultivated from Pancake Day Races. My personal favorite is long-rope jumping where ten or more people jump up and down not just to symbolize flipping pancakes but also seeds sprouting in the early spring. There’s nothing quite like the magic of witnessing sprouting seeds, the kind experienced in the magical scene in Miyazaki Hayao’s film, Totoro. Two sisters, Natsuki and Mei take agency in the joy of their own growth as they watch the seeds they planted, sprout.

Wishing everyone every joy this weekend in the leadup to Shrove Tuesday. Pancake-flipping. Jump-roping. Seed-sprouting. Rewatching Miyazaki films. Spring is coming. It’s time for renewal.

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