Tomorrow is Pancake Day in the UK, a day that many like me enjoy eating lots of pancakes ๐Ÿ™‚ย  Butย  you won’t find ‘Pancake Day’ in any calendar.ย  Instead you’d have to look for Shrove Tuesday.ย  But what is Shrove Tuesday and why is an important day in the Christian calendar associated with pancakes?

A couple of days ago I decided to find out when Shrove Tuesday was this year and, while searching, found an article from The Sun online newspaper about how people had taken to Twitter to voice their anger at the fact that it wasn’t Shrove Tuesday last week.ย  Most people expected the special day to fall in February so believed it to be the last Tuesday of February, but in reality the day, which occurs about 40 days before Easter Sunday, falls tomorrow, on the 5th March this year, and this made many people angry.ย  Why?ย  Because Shrove Tuesday is known as Pancake Day in the UK, and it’s a day when everyone can pig-out on eating pancakes.

Everyone loves pancake day.ย  I remember watching the teachers in my primary school every year, teaching us all how to cook them by demonstrating in asembly.ย  There was no stove of course so the pancakes never made it past the batter stage, but the event of Pancake Day held enough importantce for my teachers to feel the need to show us how they are made.

As I grew up it became a tradition to eat pancakes every year on Shrove Tuesday and I loved it.ย  English pancakes are different from American ones and my family filled them with all sorts of savoury and sweet stuff!ย  I even loved eating the things on their own with a little sugar and still do make them to this day.ย  But as I grew into an adult the novelty of Pancake Day wore off, and I took to eating whatever I wanted to on that day.ย  The British people have made Pancake Day into a tradition, but why do we all eat pancakes during this specific day?

A Christian tradition

As I’ve already mentioned, Pancake Day falls on Shrove Tuesday every year, a Christian day which marks the last day before Lent, a time when people give certain things up.ย  Lent lasts for about 40 days.ย  It is a time Christians find important as it marks the 40 days that Jesus spent in the desert fasting and because of this they see it as a time to give up certain luxuries.ย  Some people in the past would fast too, but many would instead give up what were seen as luxury foods: fat and eggs.ย  But they didn’t want these foods to go to waste so they would put all the ingredients together in a pan and make a pan cake out of them to use them up.

The day is known as Shrove Tuesdayย  The word shrove, is the past tense for the word shrive which means to go to church and confess and absovle yourself of all sins.ย  It was a time that people used to look at with reflection, but over time the idea of the last day before Lent became a bit of a celebration and people took to celebrating and enjoying eating fattening and sweet foods.ย  In the UK people celebrate Pancake day, in other countries it is known as Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, and people celebrate with cakes and even carnival!

Making pancakes – Own traditions

You need just a few ingredients to make pancakes: flour, milk, salt and eggs.ย  There are many basic recipes you can search for online and the idea of a traditional British pancake is to mix all the ingredients into a batter and then fry this batter (not all of it at once) by spreading the mix to the edges of the frying pan.ย  This makes a flat but wide pancake, much wider than the traditional breakfast American ones you see.ย  You can try flipping the pancake in the pan after unsticking it if you are brave enough, it’s something that many try to do and you might even get a small cheer if you manage to filp it and catch it in the pan, as most people end up with a messed up blog of pancake mix.ย  If you’re not up to it use a spatula instead ๐Ÿ™‚

I have always loved eating pancakes, but as a lacto vegetarian for most of my life (meaning I’m fine consuming milk but not eggs) my own family have come up with our own pancakes which is everything in the list above but not the eggs.ย  Our pancakes are perhaps a bit thinner than the average British ones, in between a pancake and a crepe, but they are still very delicious and work very well.ย  Although tradition would have people putting topings on their pancakes like lemon juice with sugar, honey or even maple syrup, while eating them flat in a stack, why not stuff them instead, like my family has always done, by filling them with ingredients and either folding them or rolling to keep your ingredients inside!

You could fill them with anything you’d put in a wrap, like burgers, cheese (believe it or not cottage cheese tastes great like – I think this comes from my family’s love of white cheeses ๐Ÿ˜€ ), or last night’s leftovers.ย  You could even make some lovely dessert pancakes by speading them with a think layer of jam and then folding them in four and pouring cream or yogurt on the top.

Not just for Shrove Tuesday

Christians in the past gave up a lot of luxury ingredients and made pancakes for the day but these days Lent is more likely to be done by giving up a particular item seen as luxorious, like chocolate or sweets instead of giving up the more basic ingredients.ย  The old Christian traditions mixed with British culture and it has become an iconic day in the calendar where people eat pancakes whether they are Christians or not.ย  Pancake Day, as many now call it, is no longer related to religion but it has its roots in Christianity and it is good to remember where this tradition comes from.

The British people in the article I referred to at the beginning were upset that last week wasn’t Shrove Tuesday.ย  Many of them tweeting their anger or messages that they were going to cry when they realised they couldn’t have pancakes that day.ย  But their anger was silly, they didn’t really think, as pancakes can be eaten at any time of the year. Many people in other countries like America eat pancakes all year around and in my case, Pancake Day is no longer a set day of the year but rather something I do whenever I really feel like eating pancakes.ย  Sometimes that’s in the summer, sometimes in the winter, I soetimes have them for dinner and at other times small plain ones for breakfast.ย  I’ve even experimented in adding ingredients like sugar, cocoa and chocolate to make alternative pancakes like chocolate pancakes and will continue to experiment like this.ย  There are also many different receipes out there, some even for vegan pancakes, so there’s plenty of chances to try eating pancakes!

So if you feel like pancakes you can eat them whenever you want.ย  But remember where their roots lie and why people made them in the first place.ย  The tradition of Lent may be Chritian but the principal of giving somehting up, even for a short time, to make us think about the wonderful things we have in this world, to make us grateful for those things we have, is still a good thing to think about and in some cases practice soemtimes.

Happy Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras or Pancake Day everyone!

Some information sourced/checked from:

-Read – 5 Facts About Pancakes and Shrove Tuesday

Do you celebrate Pancake Day or the Christian Shrove Tuesday?ย  Do you like to eat pancakes?ย  What do you eat your pancakes with?ย  Let me know what you think in the comments below ๐Ÿ™‚