Why Do We Eat Pancakes On Shrove Tuesday Pancake Day

The History Of Pancake Day

Why Do We Eat Pancakes On Shrove Tuesday Pancake Day

Pancake Day is always celebrated on a Tuesday and is also known as Shrove Tuesday. Pancake Day celebrates the start of the Christian celebration of Lent where Christians give up something for 40 days to empathise with Jesus Christ when he was sent into the wilderness for 40 days and nights and tempted by the Devil.

The forty days now leads up to the celebration of Easter.


Traditionally Christians would go to church to confession where they would confess their sins and were absolved from their sins. This was known as Shriven or Shrive. Over the years this has been shortened to Shrove, hence why Pancake Day is now known as Shrove Tuesday.

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Pancake Day

During Lent people would fast, so the day before, Shrove Tuesday, households would use up food items in the home such as sugar, butter, milk and eggs. Pancakes were easily made from these ingredients and provided needed nutrients before the fasting period. Eggs would not be eaten thereafter until Easter. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday and ends at Easter, a period of forty days.

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About Pancake Day

The first pancake recipe was in a cookbook dated back to the year 1439.

The largest cooked pancake was made to celebrate the Co-operative movement 150the anniversary. The largest cooked pancake was 15 metres in diameter and weighed 3 tonnes. It was cooked in Rochdale in England and was estimated to contain over two million calories.

Ralf Laue from Leipzig tossed a pancake 416 times in two minutes on the 28 June 1997.

Runners of marathons are always trying to think of novel ways to run the race. On the 24 October 1999 Mike Cuzzacrea ran a marathon whilst continuously tossing a pancake in a pan. It took Mike Cuzzacrea three hours, two minutes and 27 seconds to complete the event.

Pancake Day Race

A pancake day race has been run on shrove Tuesday since 1445 in Olney village in Buckinghamshire. The origins of the pancake day race are thought to be from a time when one busy housewife heard the shriven bell at the village church and run straight there so as no to be late. She was still holding her frying pan and so started the tradition of pancake day race. Over the years this custom has been kept and modern runners now dress as traditional housewives with aprons ands bonnets whilst holding their frying pan. Pancake day race rules state that they must at least toss the pancake at the start of the race and at the end of the pancake day race.

International pancake day races include that in Liberal Kansas which started in 1950 where they race against Olney residents.

In 2008 the Shrove Tuesday pancake race in Ripon, North Yorkshire, was cancelled due to health and safety regulations. The cost of safety precautions and adhering to regulations meant that organisers had to call of the pancake race that usually began with the ringing of the Ripon Cathedral Pancake Bell.

Parliament Pancake Race

The Parliament Pancake Day takes place between various party Members of Parliament (MP) of the House of Commons. They race across Victoria Tower Gardens, opposite the Houses of Parliament, and have to flip their pancakes. The Parliament pancake race is sponsored by British Lion Eggs and proceeds goes to the charity Rehab.

Welsh Pancakes

Welsh pancakes differ slightly in that they are made with buttermilk, sour cream or cream and have tiny holes in their cooked surface. Welsh pancakes are also known as Welshcakes. Once cooked they are then placed on top of each other on a large plate and the top Welshcake is spread heavily with butter. The small holes of the Welsh pancakes makes the butter spread throughout each Welsh pancake. Each Welshcake is usually kept flat but in Swansea they like to roll them up.

Other UK regional variations include Gloucester where pancakes are made with suet and fried in lard before serving with golden syrup.

In Scotland Scottish pancakes are much smaller and thicker. There is a link further below for a Scots pancake recipe from the uttertrivia.com other website scottishrecipes.co.uk

International types of pancakes include French crepes which are really thin pancakes, American pancakes which are thick and have various toppings and Russian pancakes which are small bite sized made from buckwheat flour and yeast. Russian pancakes are called Russian blini. Each country have their own pancake customs such as in France where the cook holds a coin against the pancake handle for luck. As they turn the pancake they make a wish.

Pancake cooking tips include flipping a pancake as quickly as possible and waiting for little bubbles to appear around the edges before turning or flipping pancakes. The key to a good pancake is preparation and this includes whisking the ingredients as thoroughly as possible so that no lumps appear. Some chefs use a food processor to blend the ingredients. This can be made earlier in the day and kept in the fridge for several hours.

Pancake Recipes

There is our easy to cook pancake recipe.

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