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Why do we Celebrate Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday?

Why do we Celebrate Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday?

What even is Pancake Day?

This Tuesday evening, most of us will be stood over the flame of the kitchen stove, patiently making our best attempts to flip batter into a sizzling pan and hopefully not on the ceiling or floor. Celebrating Pancake Day, otherwise known as Shrove Tuesday, is an excuse for the whole nation to indulge in a serious mid-week treat. But do any of us actually know why we revel in this tradition? Whether you opt for Nutella and strawberries, berries and yoghurt, lemon and sugar, or perhaps more savoury pancake toppings… Here’s all you need to know about one of the yummiest religious events in the annual calendar.

What and when is Shrove Tuesday 2020?

Shrove Tuesday aka pancake day on the 25th of Feb 2020, signals the last treat or feast day before the beginning of the 40 days of lent on ‘Ash Wednesday.’ What happens during lent, a Christian tradition, is a period of fasting in the run-up to the Easter celebrations, where people voluntarily give up typically unhealthy foods. On Shrove Tuesday, the shriving bell is rung signalling people to confess their sins and eliminate any tempting treats that could be eaten during this religious period.

So where do Pancakes come into this?

Since the main ingredients of the recipe such as eggs, butter, and milk fall into ‘luxury or rich’ foods that Christians would typically abstain from during lent, pancakes became the perfect recipe to use up all of these household staples before the start of fasting. Dairy is traditionally banned during lent so pancake day is the last day to indulge before Easter. And so, the tradition was born:

“And every man and maide doe take their turne, And tosse their Pancakes up for feare they burne.” (Pasquil’s Palin, 1619).

Unusual Pancake Day Traditions

  1. Olney Pancake Day Race est. 1445

2. Canada Coin and Button Filling

Canadians celebrate pancake day too, but with sausages and maple syrup being the chosen traditional topping. However, they go one step further, adding more unusual ingredients to the batter, including items like buttons and coins. The significance here is that those who discover a glistening coin get the gift of wealth, whereas those who discover buttons are destined to a life of working class roles like being a tailor or seamstress!

3. Scarborough, Yorkshire, Skipping Tradition

In Scarborough, the sound of the ‘pancake’ or ‘shriving’ bell motions the local community to begin skipping with long ropes! Why? “Well, it’s been going on for at least 200 years, and it helps get an appetite up for pancakes” says a spokesperson from the travel and tourism industry.

Need some inspiration for pancake day toppings?

The traditional English pancake day topping has undoubtedly evolved into lemon juice and caster sugar. However, there are many other popular choices amongst the nation’s pancake lovers. Waitrose has even released its very own vegan version!

Sweet Treats

Peanut Butter

peanut butter pancake

Nutella and Strawberries

Nutella

Berries and Honey

blueberry pancakes

More Savoury Options…

Goats Cheese and Spinach

Veggie Fajitas

fajitas

Bacon and egg

bacon pancake

We hope you have an incredibly gluttonous Shrove Tuesday, however you decide to celebrate Pancake Day Today!

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Zoe Allison

Zoe Allison

Writer and expert