Carne vale! (Goodbye meat)

February 20, 2007 at 3:39 pm | Posted in 2006, 2007, Carnival, Fun, Italian, Italy, Latin, Learning Welsh, Masks, Venice, Wales, Welsh | Leave a comment

Shrove Tuesday is Pancake Day in Britain—when we use up our eggs, butter, sugar, and dried vine fruits in delicious thin pancakes. We have them hot from the pan—with or without currants, lemon or orange juice, and sprinkled with sugar. Last year, our sons were disappointed at school in England when they discovered they were not going to get a stack of chubby American pancakes drizzled in maple syrup from Vermont.

“They call it Pancake Day, but all we got was crêpes!”

said one sadly on our walk home.

We are better prepared this year 🙂

Shrove Tuesday is always followed by Ash Wednesday, and gets its name from our sins being shriven or confessed before Lent begins. Lent, a time of fasting, is so-named because the days lengthen as we approach Eastertide. When I was young, we marked the days to Easter on a calendar as Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinquagesima Sunday—the latter marking 50 days to Easter Day, counting both Sundays of course, and quinquagesimus means fiftieth in Latin. Sexagesima is the Sunday before Quinquagesima, and Septuagesima the Sunday before that! So, don’t just think you can count back ten days in Latin and figure out what I am talking about 😉 Here’s a little more on our British customs for this time of year.

Last year we visited a Venetian carnival mask and costume boutique, where we were encouraged to take a few photos for Auntie Helen, who is a fantasy artist and mask-maker extraordinaire! So, one year later, here’s one of my favourites:

Venetian mask red orange harlequin

Here’s a beautiful dress in this tiny shop:

Venice carnival mask and costume boutique

The shop is located near Ponte del Diavolo, Devil’s Bridge.

Ponte del Diavolo Venezia

Did you know we have another Devil’s Bridge, Pontarfynach, in Wales? Pont means bridge in Welsh too, because the Romans brought that word to Wales, along with:

cantor (singer)

carol (love song—from the heart)

ceffyl (horse)

cyllell (knife)

eglwys (church)

ffenest (window)

llyfr (book)

milltir (mile)

mil (thousand)

mor (sea)

mel (honey)

melys (sweet)

milwr (soldier)

perygl (danger)

pysgod (fish)

sant (saint)

All the key words you need to survive! In addition to our shared natural love of singing, singing of love, and songs of loving (!), religious and military interests feature in this short list. The geography of Italy and Wales, both having sea borders, and the ancient Roman conquest of the entire Mediterranean and its adjoining lands, explain why fish and the sea are important factors. (The Welsh never conquered anyone. Fine.) So if you know Italian, French, or Latin, you can at least identify these few words amongst all the unfamiliar Celtic ones in Wales 😉

P.S. In fact, there are so many bridges in Wales, we have at least 140 placenames beginning with “Pont-“. I have not begun to count Welsh placenames beginning with “Llan-“, which means “Holy place of Saint …”, so Llanmartin, for example, is Holy place of St. Martin.


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