Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day traditions
Pancake Day—also known as ‘Shrove Tuesday’ and similar to the ‘Mardi Gras’ or ‘Fat Tuesday’ traditions of the same day—is the day before the start of the Lenten season.
With six weeks of fasting and penitence ahead, the Tuesday before Lent is celebrated across the globe as a time to indulge, celebrate and repent.
Although the tradition of Lent is associated with Christianity, Pancake Day began as a pagan holiday. In Europe, it was a way for the Slavs to honour the changing seasons and help the Jarilo, god of springtime, ward off the evil spirits of cold weather and darkness. They made round pancakes as a symbol of the sun and ate them to take-on the sun’s warmth and power.
Additionally, the term ‘Shrove Tuesday’ comes from the word ‘shrive’, which means to confess. Members of various Christian denominations observe the holiday by repenting their sins in advance of the Lenten season.
Unlike the wild Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras traditions celebrated in so many countries across the world as part of Carnival, Pancake Day is a far more subdued occasion, observed primarily in the UK, Canada, Ireland and Australia.
Here, it’s tradition to eat pancakes as a meal before Lent kicks off the next day. Many villages across the country also hold pancake races, where apron-clad contestants run several hundred yards, frying pan in hand. Rules often state that they must flip their pancake once at the start and once at the finish line.
Pancakes can be difficult to perfect, but the recipes aren’t complicated. They’re typically a simple combination of flour, eggs, butter/oil and milk. Depending on the recipe, you might also throw in some caster sugar, salt and baking powder.
The key is deciding which style of pancake you prefer. Thick and fluffy? Thin and crispy? Something in-between? Getting the thickness and consistency of the batter right, and heating your griddle to suit, will allow the pancakes to turn a nice, golden brown outside and still cook fully on the inside—no gooey middles!
You can top your pancakes however you like, with the traditional sprinkling of caster sugar and fresh lemon juice, or perhaps adopting the sweet North American custom of maple syrup. Of course, a fantastic way to add flavour to your pancakes is to add fruit to the batter before frying. Blueberries, sliced banana or grated apple with cinnamon are all delicious ways to naturally sweeten your pancakes.
Here are some of our favourite recipes – will you give any a try? Just click on the image for the recipe.
Will you be celebrating Pancake Day this year?