Regardless of religion nearly everyone in the UK celebrates pancake day. It is the one day of the year when nearly everyone is eating pancakes! A traditional English pancake is thin and flat and cooked in a frying pan. It is made from eggs, flour and milk then sprinkled with sugar and/or lemon juice.
Pancake day is next week, Tuesday 9th February 2016. It is a Christian festival also known as Shrove Tuesday. It is the day before Ash Wednesday which is the beginning of Lent. Lent is a time of abstinence, of giving things up which last 40 days until Easter Sunday.
Observed by many Christians around the world, Shrove Tuesday is a day of celebration and a last chance to feast and indulge yourself before Lent begins. It is a time to use up any foods that are not allowed during Lent, giving foods up but not wasting them. Using up foods that would not last the 40 days of Lent. Traditionally Christians would give up meat, fish, eggs, milky foods and fats. Pancakes became a part of Shrove Tuesday as a way of using up eggs and milk with the addition of flour, a tradition that stems back many many many years.
The word ‘shrove’ comes from the word ‘shrive’ meaning absolve or to confess. In some countries Shrove Tuesday is known as Mardi Gras which means grease or fat Tuesday, a carnival day the last day to gorge before Lent.
As well as eating pancakes on pancake day, traditionally in England it is customary to pancake race whilst tossing a pancake. The first ever recorded pancake race was back in 1445. A woman making her pancakes heard the shriving bell which signalled the start of the half day holiday held on Shrove Tuesday and to call people to church to absolve their sins. She ran to the church still clutching her frying pan! The pancake race was born!
So, don’t forget to stock up on those all important ingredients and toppings. Make sure you have a non-stick frying pan to cook and toss the pancakes in. Whether it’s a buckwheat pancake or a traditional pancake, religious or not, enjoy! Click here for my pancake recipe and ideas.