Shrove Tuesday, more commonly known as Pancake Day, is the traditional feast day before the start of Lent or Ash Wednesday – and it’s stacked full of one very delicious sweet treat… you guessed it – pancakes!
The name originates from the word ‘Shrove,’ which refers to the Anglo-Saxon Christian practice of being called to confession by a bell (later called the ‘Pancake Bell’). To be ‘shriven’ meant to be absolved of their sins.
Pancakes also have a symbolic meaning, which is down to the ingredients themselves. Eggs symbolise creation and birth and flour, the staff of life; Salt is wholesomeness and milk symbolises purity.
Pancake Day traditions continue to this day. Shrove Tuesday celebrations include pancake racing, which see people, often in fancy dress, grabbing a pan and racing down the streets flipping pancakes!
This was thought to have originated in Olney, Buckinghamshire in 1445 (where the most famous one still takes place today). The story goes that one woman of Olney heard the shriving bell while she was making pancakes and ran to the church, still wearing an apron and clutching her frying pan for dear life.
Today in Olney, contestants must be housewives dressed in aprons or scarves and toss their pancake three times during the race. The first one over the finish line and to church then serves her pancake to the bell ringer and receives a kiss!
It’s not just the UK that celebrates Pancake Day though.
In France, Pancake Day is known as Mardi Gras which translates to ‘Fat Tuesday’. It’s traditional to touch the handle of the frying pan with a coin in the other hand and make a wish as the pancake is turned.
In Newfoundland, small tokens are often cooked into the pancakes for children to discover and learn something about their future – a bit like fortune pancakes! For example, a child who receives a coin will be rich or one who finds a nail will be or marry a carpenter.
Unfortunately we can’t tell the future, but we can tell you that on average 117 million pancakes are eaten on the day in the UK; the biggest ever pancake made was 15 metres wide and 2.5cm deep and the largest number of pancakes tossed in the shortest time is 349 tosses in two minutes achieved in 1995 by Dean Gould in Suffolk!
But, most importantly, Shrove Tuesday falls 47 days before Easter, so you can start your countdown to chocolate now!
Looking for something a bit different this pancake day? Add a buzz to your day with Espresso Martini Pancakes, get a little zesty with Lemon Drizzle Pancakes, join in with all the fun with Vegan Pancakes or go for a savoury touch with Eggs Benedict Pancakes!
We look forward to welcoming you to Morley Hayes this Shrove Tuesday (25 February) to sample all our tasty desserts and sweet treats!