Lisa's week

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  • Lisa's week: I’ll have mine with sugar and lemon juice, please!

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Lisa's week: I’ll have mine with sugar and lemon juice, please!

I’m often asked if we celebrate “Carnival” in the UK and the easy answer is “No”. At least not the same sort of carnival as we celebrate here in Germany. There is a very famous carnival in Notting Hill, London but that’s on the last weekend in August, (always a Bank Holiday weekend in England) and is a two-day celebration of the capital city’s Caribbean communities culture and traditions. Definitely not connected to celebrations between the Thursday and Tuesday before Lent starts that are at the heart of the German countries’ Karneval or Fasching, or even the renowned Rio festivities.

However, the UK does celebrate Ash Wednesday as the beginning of the period of 40 days of Lent running up to Easter. And we also have a special celebration the day before which is called “Shrove Tuesday” or colloquially, “Pancake Day”.

The word “shrove” comes from the old English “to shrive” which means to confess one’s sins and to receive God’s forgiveness. Traditionally, this would have happened on the day before Ash Wednesday as preparation for the time of Lent. But Shrove Tuesday was also a day of celebration as it was the last chance to indulge and enjoy the last of the foods that wouldn’t be allowed or eaten during the Lent period. Typically, these foods would include meat, fish, fat, eggs and milky dishes. What can you make using fat, eggs and milk? Pancakes of course! Yes, families would make up pancakes for everyone to use up those items in their pantry with just the addition of flour. We still make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday these days. Delicious! Our pancakes are thin, like crêpes, and normally served with lemon juice and a sprinkle of sugar, which is exactly how I’ll be eating mine next Tuesday.

If you check out the BBC on Shrove Tuesday, you might even catch a glimpse of pancake racing which is thought to date back to 1445 when a woman who was making pancakes for her family lost track of time. When the bells rang to call the churchgoers to the Shrove Tuesday service, it is said that she ran out of the house, still clutching her frying pan, and raced to church so that she wouldn’t be late. Many small towns and villages still hold pancake races today with contestants in the oldest race in England – at Olney in Buckinghamshire - needing to follow strict rules which include tossing the pancake in the frying pan at the start and end of the race as well as wearing an apron and headscarf. You can see a funny report about a pancake race with members of the British upper and lower houses of parliament, as well as the press, on the BBC here

So after you’ve recovered from Rosenmontag, don’t forget to make yourself some pancakes for Shrove Tuesday!


What is Lisa's week?

"We’ve (hopefully) been entertaining you so far with the meaning and background of a weekly English idiom and now we’ve decided to expand that a little to give me the chance to share some details that come my way in my daily life as a Business English teacher. I hope to find weekly tidbits of information and experience to tell you about such as British traditions that I (or we) celebrate, or typical mistakes made when speaking English, or even some of the funny things I come across in my daily life. We hope that you’ll enjoy the insight into the life of a Brit in Germany!"


Episode 1: The Queen's 90th birthday

Episode 2: What did you do last Sunday?

Episode 3: What's the best way to answer?

Episode 4: The sound of London

Episode 5: Not just a last resort

Episode 6: Quick tip of the week: advice vs. advise

Episode 7: Title talk

Episode 8: The Union Jack

Episode 9: Why Thursday?

Episode 10: Quick tip of the week - Are you watching or just looking?

Episode 11: Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Episode 12: Don't forget to take you handy to the public viewing!

Episode 13: Up in the Highlands

Episode 14: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends

Episode 15: Pie in the sky 

Episode 16: Through the tunnel

Episode 17: Keep left!

Episode 18: Quick tip of the week - Rise vs. raise vs. arise

Episode 19: How do you say that?

Episode 20: Back to School!

Episode 21: Sweet cravings

Episode 22: Can you change a fiver?

Episode 23: Grabbing some "me time"

Episode 24: Typical Mistakes (part 1)

Episode 25: Fancy a cuppa?

Episode 26: Quip tip of the week - Fell vs. fall etc.

Episode 27: Things that go bump in the night!

Episode 28: Remember, remember the fifth of November, gunpower, treason and plot

Episode 29: What's that badge you're wearing?

Episode 30: Bless you!

Episode 31: What are you thankful for?

Episode 32: Where's the larget Christmas Market outside Germany or Austria?

Episode 33: What's behind the door?

Episode 34: The joy of a Christmas cracker!

Episode 35: Does it all fit on the table?

Episode 36: Seeing in the New Year

Episode 37: How are your resolutions going?

Episode 38: Quick tip of the week - "Popular" false friends - part 2

Episode 39: What will the Year of the Rooster mean for you?

Episode 40: Sweet Valentine

Episode 41: A Reminder