Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday, always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday. The date can vary between the 3rd February and the 9th March. This year, it falls on Tuesday 13th February.
The tradition dates back to the Anglo-Saxon era (from AD 410 to 1066) when Christians would be called to confess their sins before the beginning of Lent. The word ‘shrove’ is a form of the word ‘shrive’ which means to receive absolution (forgiveness) for one’s sins by confessing to them.
Shrove Tuesday is known in the UK as Pancake Tuesday, as it’s customary for people to eat pancakes on this day.
What’s the significance of Pancake Day?
Pancake Day marks the last day before Lent starts. Lent is the 40-day period which occurs before Easter. Beginning on Ash Wednesday – the day after Shrove Tuesday – Lent is a time for reflection and abstinence. During this period, it’s customary for people to give up their favourite treats, such as chocolate.
Why do we celebrate by eating pancakes?
Pancakes are made with butter, milk and eggs. These are all indulgent foods that would traditionally be given up during Lent as people fasted. However, to prevent waste, making pancakes was a means of using up all these ingredients in one go.
Although Pancake Day is regarded as a Christian tradition, it’s believed that its roots may have derived from Paganism when eating pancakes was a way of celebrating the arrival of spring.
What other traditions take place on Shrove Tuesday?
In some parts of the UK, pancake races form part of the Shrove Tuesday celebrations. Participants line up with cooked pancakes in frying pans, with the objective of getting to the finish line first. This isn’t as easy as it sounds – they must toss their pancakes as they run!
Olney in Buckinghamshire is the location of one of the most famous pancake races. According to legend, in 1445 a harassed woman in Olney heard the shriving (confession) bell whilst she was making pancakes. She rushed to the church, holding her frying pan which contained a pancake. Today, female competitors can take part in the Olney Pancake Race. They must wear an apron and toss their pancake whilst dashing to the finish line.
How to make pancakes
To make a batch of 12 pancakes, you’ll need the following ingredients:
-100g plain flour
-2 large eggs
-Oil for frying
-Pinch of salt
-Toppings of your choice
- In a bowl or large jug, add the flour, eggs, milk and pinch of salt. Whisk these ingredients into a smooth batter.
2. Put a frying pan on a medium heat and wipe it with some oiled kitchen paper.
3. When the pan is hot enough, pour the batter in to make pancakes of your desired thickness.
4. Cook your pancakes on either side until golden.
5. Either eat immediately or keep the pancakes warm in a low oven as you cook the next batch.
6. Serve the pancakes with a topping of your choice.
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