Why do we celebrate and why do we eat them on Shrove Tuesday?

Pancake Day is approaching, so now we officially have an excuse to eat as much pancakes as we want.

Shrove Tuesday, as it’s more formally known, is the perfect reason to gather friends and family for stacks of delicious pancakes.

While some people’s pancake flipping skills are better than others, any pancake fan knows it’s all about sauces, no matter how they taste.

Some people like to garnish with fresh berries and cream, or keep it simple with lemon and sugar.

Whatever your pancake preference, what could be better than an entire day devoted to them?

Here’s everything you need to know about Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday:

When is Pancake Day?

Each year, the city of London transforms into a pancake paradise with restaurants and homes that bake a delectable assortment of highly addictive dough cakes and pancakes. However, given that this day changes each year with Easter, it can be difficult to remember when it is and exactly why we celebrate it.

This year, Shrove Tuesday falls on February 21.

Why do we celebrate Pancake Day?

For Christians, Shrove Tuesday marks the last day before Lent, which is traditionally a period of abstinence and associated with clearing your cupboards of goods such as sugar, oil, and eggs.

Traditionally, pancakes were eaten on this day to consume these foods before the start of the 40-day fasting season of Lent. Some believe that the four ingredients used in pancakes may actually represent the four pillars of the Christian faith – flour as the ‘scepter of life’, egg as ‘creation’, milk as ‘purity’ and salt as ‘health’.

While the day is important in Christian tradition, Pancake Day is widely celebrated by non-believers.

What does Shrove Tuesday mean?

The word shrove is derived from the English word ‘shrive’ meaning ‘to obtain redemption through confession and atonement’. The day derives its unique name from the Christian tradition of being ‘blessed’ before Lent begins. They were called to confession by the ringing of a bell known as the ‘pancake bell’, which is still rung in some churches today.

Why are we flipping pancakes?

Pancakes have a very long history, dating back to 1439 in cookbooks. The tradition of throwing or flipping them is almost ancient. Legend has it that the tradition was born in Buckinghamshire in the 15th century, when a woman rushed to church to confess her sins while she was making pancakes. This tradition is practiced today in Olney, Buckinghamshire, where competitors are required to wear an apron and a hat or scarf and pancake three times during a race to church. The winner is the one who comes first to the church and is kissed by the bell.

And according to the poet Pasquil Palin in 1619, the custom of throwing or flipping them is to prevent them from burning:

“And every boy and girl takes their turn,

“Throw away your pancakes for fear of burning.”

Need Pancake Day inspiration?

Check out these various food instagrams…

From delicious blinis with smoked salmon to millefeuille crepe muffins, here are some great recipes you can try at home.

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