Food Fights, Carnivals And Pancakes Celebrate Shrove Tuesday

Photo of author
Written By Saeed Maleki

Huge crowds have spent the past three days throwing thousands of kilos of oranges at each other in a massive food fight.

The Battle of the Oranges dates to the early 1800s, when Napoleon’s troops had an iron grip on the town of Ivrea, which lies halfway between Turin and the port of Genoa.

The battle relives a civil uprising between the people of the town and the occupying troops after the death of the hated local tyrant Raineri di Biandrate.

The legend says Biandrate was beheaded after attempting to enforce his right of noblesse oblige against a miller’s daughter. The girl fought back and won, parading his head around the town for all to see and sparking an uprising.

The modern re-enactment has the miller’s daughter and Napoleon’s general refereeing the orange throwing to maintain fair play.

Town is a battlefield

The town becomes the battlefield with nine teams taking on the soldiers. Around the town are huge stacks of oranges imported from Sicily for the occasion, while the soldiers patrol the streets in horse and carts.

Onlookers who prefer not to take part are identified by their red hats – but donning the hat means no sneaky orange throwing.

The buildings are draped in nets to protect windows and battle commences.

The fight ends on Shrove Tuesday.

Other events celebrating Shrove Tuesday include the Mardi Gras carnivals in the US city of New Orleans.

What does ‘Shrove’ mean

Mardi Gras – or Fat Tuesday – is celebrated by thousands of tourists who go to the city to watch the parades and party.

In the Commonwealth, Shrove Tuesday is called Pancake Day.

All the festivals have one thing in common – they celebrations and feasts that precede Lent in the Christian calendar and the run up to Easter. The tradition was to use up any stocks of eggs, flour and milk in the kitchen to prepare for fasting during Lent.

In England, people visited church to confess their sins on Shrove Tuesday. ‘Shrove’ is an old English word derived from the verb ‘to shrive’, which means asking for absolution of sin. Someone who is ‘shrove of sin’ has been absolved.