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The men run the show on Shrove Tuesday at Christ Church, Wayside.

“The men do all the planning, buying, mixing and cooking of the food,” said Betty Bowling, a lifelong member of the church in Newburg. “And then they clean the kitchen.”

Pass the syrup

Indian Head United Methodist Church will hold a Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner 5:30-7 p.m. Feb. 12 at the church, 19 Mattingly Ave. Call 301-743-7308.

Waldorf Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary will hold a Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner 4-8 p.m. Feb. 12 at Station 3, 3245 Old Washington Road, Waldorf. Admission is $8; children younger than 6 are admitted free. Call 301-645-5292.

Christ Church, Accokeek will hold a Shrove Tuesday pancake dinner 5-7 p.m. Feb. 12 at the church, 600 Farmington Road, Accokeek. Admission is $9 for adults and $5 for kids 6-12; children younger than 6 are admitted free. Call 301-292-5633.

St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Piney Parish will hold a Shrove Tuesday pancake supper 5:30-7 p.m. Feb. 12 at the church, 4535 Piney Church Road, Waldorf. Tickets are $8 for adults, $6 for seniors, $5 for students 6 to 18 and free for children 5 and younger. Call 301-645-5000 or go to www.pineyparish.org.

Trinity Episcopal Church will hold a pancake supper 5-7 p.m. Feb. 12 at the church hall, 9611 Trinity Church Road, Charlotte Hall. Admission is $7 with children 4 and younger admitted free. Call 301-932-0159.

Christ Church, Wayside will hold a Shrove Tuesday supper 5-7 p.m. Feb. 12 at the church, 13050 Rock Point Road, Newburg. Admission is $7 for adults, $4 for kids 6-12 and free for kids 5 and younger. Call 301-259-4327.

All the women do is serve the food.

The menu is a simple one: pancakes made from scratch (no frozen discs at Wayside), breakfast sausage and Italian sauage, eggs and applesauce.

Bowling, whose parents and grandparents also were church members, said the parish goes back 320 years, and as far as she knows, it has always celebrated Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday, which kicks off the Lenten season.

“This opens the Easter season,” she said, adding that the pancake supper is also a sweet opportunity for people and families interested in the church.

“We host this for the entire community as an outreach to anyone who wishes to attend regardless of denomination,” Bowling said. “We are down on the lower end of the county and love inviting everyone to visit with us and, of course, attend our services if they do not have a church and are looking for one.”

St. Paul’s, Piney Parish in Waldorf has been holding Shrove Tuesday celebrations for many years.

Susan Parody, a 15-year member of the church, has been helping with the event for that long.

She is the one in charge of shopping, picking up nonperishables earlier this week.

She’ll shop for eggs and other fresh ingredients Saturday morning in preparation for the supper that attracts around 150 parishioners and community members.

“A lot of fellowship, a lot of noise, kids running around,” she said.

The supper is a fun way to kick off a season meant for reflection and sacrifice in the six weeks leading up to Easter.

Shrove Tuesday’s roots go back to the earliest of Christian times, according to American Catholic, a website dedicated to the religion and its beliefs.

The custom of having pancakes and other decadent food comes from the need to use up fat, eggs and dairy before the fasting and abstinence of Lent begins, the site explains.

One of the biggest celebrations in the United States is Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the last blow out before the 40 days of Lent.

Translated from French, Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday,” and comes from a tradition of feasting on a fattened calf on the last day of carnival, a time from the end of Christmas to the start of Lent. The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green and gold, which signify justice, faith and power, respectively.

Shrove Tuesday comes from the custom of “to shrive,” or hear confessions, the site explained.

St. Paul’s will have a little New Orleans flavor. Church member Sandie Branan promised to make beignets, a popular donut-like confection in the Big Easy.

In Charles County, Fat Tuesday is also the last hurrah before Lent, minus King Cakes and parade floats.

Pancake suppers are enough work.

Parody rattles off her shopping list: 30 dozen eggs, 500 sausage links, 27 pounds of bacon, ingredients for 20 pounds of pancakes. The reason for the suppers is not forgotten. Lent begins at midnight Feb. 12.

“You can give up something or take up something new,” Parody said.

It is a time to make yourself spirtually stronger, she said.

staylor@somdnews.com