Catholic Activity: Carling or Passion Sunday
A description of the tradition of "Carling Sunday" in England. Since Passion Sunday and Palm Sunday are now combined in our current liturgy, we point Carling Sunday for the 6th Sunday in Lent.
Since early times the fifth Sunday in Lent has been called Carling Sunday, and it is the custom to eat carlings, or peas, which are soaked in water overnight, fried in butter, and seasonsed with pepper and salt. Sometimes, as in Northumberland, sugar and rum are added for greater tastiness. The practice of eating carlings is particularly popular in northern England, and Scotland. Although the custom is not so universal as in olden times, Rothbury, Belford, and other Northumbrian towns, as well as various Yorkshire communities, still eat carlings on Passion Sunday.
In Nottinghamshire there is a folk rhyme:
Care Sunday, Care away
Palm Sunday and Easter Day
Which means, of course, that Care Sunday is just two weeks before Easter.
From time immemorial boys and girls have used carlings in fortune-telling games; for, according to tradition, the person getting the last pea in the dish will be the first to marry!
Carling Sunday goes by many different names, which vary from place to place, according to local dialect and custom. Carline, Carlin, Carl, and Care, probably meaning the period of care or sorrow connected with the Lord's Passion, are other forms applied to the day. In early Worcestershire records the day is referred to as Patient Sunday, which some think is a colloquial form of Passion, and others an indication that patience still is needed to get through the rest of Lent! In parts of Cambridgeshire Whirlin' Sunday was the name once applied to the day because of a special delicacy known as "Whirlin' Cakes." Burnley, in Lancashire, on the contrary, eats fig, or fag, pies on this Sunday.
Activity Source: Yearbook of English Festivals by Dorothy Gladys Spicer, The H. W. Wilson Company, New York, NY, 1954