Pancake day is one of my favorite days of the year but what is it really about?
Pancake day, or Shrove Tuesday is the traditional feast day before the start of lent on Ash Wednesday. Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter and gives the opportunity to use up all ingredients such as eggs, sugar and milk before embarking on the lenten fast, lucky for us pancakes were the best way of using the ingredients.
In other countries this day is called Mardi Gras which translates to Carnival day, also the last day of gorging/eating before the fast starts.
Since the 12th century as part of the community celebrations towns would hold football matches, however this practice mostly died out with the passing of the 1835 Highways Act which banned the playing of football on public highways, there are still some towns such as Alnwick in Northumberland, Ashbourne in Derbyshire and St Columb Major in Cornwall who have managed to keep this tradition going.
Other towns celebrate with pancake races which is said to have originated in 1445 in Olney Buckinghamshire. According to the tradition a house wife was cooking pancakes when she heard the church bells and went running in her apron to the church tossing her pancake in the pan so it wouldn’t burn. The tradition is still very common in towns today.
Pancakes are eaten on Shrove Tuesday with a number of toppings and nowadays we like to give something up for the 40 days instead of fasting.
What is your favorite pancake topping and what will you give up for Lent?