Today marks the first day of Lent in the Christian world, and this day is called Ash Wednesday. What better way to mark the start of the fasting period – when you are supposed to fight all kinds of temptations – than by eating loads and loads of delicious stuff the day before! Hence, the day before Ash Wednesday you have a day called Shrove Tuesday. The name derives from the word shrive which means to “confess”.
A logical thing to do before Lent is to enjoy culinary delicacies and every country indeed has their own way of enjoying themselves!
In the Anglo-Saxon world, Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Tuesday and logically involves a lot of pancakes. In France, (surprise surprise) pancakes are also a Mardi Gras favourite, whereas in the Netherlands it is a tradition to enjoy herring on the morning of Ash Wednesday.
In Finland and Sweden there is one treat above all others associated with Lent: a sweet bun filled with whipped cream, almond paste and/or jam. Similar treats are also enjoyed in the other Nordic countries as well as the Baltic States.
In Swedish it is called semla, in Finland-Swedish fastlagsbulle and in Finnish laskiaispulla. As the saying goes, a dear child has many names! All you need to do to enjoy this simple yet tasteful creation, is to make a cardamom-flavoured sweet bun, cut the top off, fill the bun with as much good stuff as your heart desires and enjoy it with a cup of tea or coffee!
And what about you? What did you eat as a “preparation” for Lent?