Why Do We Eat Pancakes On Shrove Tuesday? History Of Pancake Day | Kidadl


Why Do We Eat Pancakes On Shrove Tuesday? History Of Pancake Day

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What happened on Shrove Tuesday that led to it being called Pancake Day?

Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday. Pancakes were made on Shrove Tuesday to use up the eggs and fats before beginning the Lenten Fast.

Shrove Tuesday is traditionally a feast celebration day that falls the day before the Lent Fast begins on Ash Wednesday, and the date always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday. During the fasting season, Christians would not consume any meat, eggs, fish, fats, or milk, if they were above the age of 14. This is why pancakes are eaten before it begins as a great way to use up the eggs and milk in the house. Pancakes are flat cakes made in a frying pan or griddle in butter or oil. The pancake batter recipe is a mix of eggs, plain flour, butter, milk, sugar, and vanilla essence for flavoring. Honey, maple syrup, chocolate sauce, butter, or castor sugar are some common toppings that accompany pancakes.

Read on to know more about the history of Pancake Day and the traditions related to it. Also, check out other interesting articles which answer popular questions like why do golfers yell fore and why do our ears pop?

What is Shrove Tuesday?

Shrove Tuesday is traditionally a feast day celebrated by Christians before the Lent Fast begins. The Shrove Tuesday meaning comes from the word ‘shrive’, which means to give absolution after hearing a confession. The date isn't fixed in the year, but it always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday. On Shrove Tuesday, people traditionally went to confess in churches and prepare themselves for Lent. The shriving bell would be rung to call people to church for their confession. Over a period called Shrovetide, all the foods which couldn't be consumed during the fast were used up. Shrovetide means carnival in English which is derived from the Latin term 'carnem levare' - to take away the flesh. It has many names like Fasching (in Germany) and Mardi gras or Fat Tuesday (in the United States). All the meat would be eaten on ‘Collop Monday’ (collop means a thin slice of meat) and eggs, butter, and fat on Shrove Tuesday. The traditional day usually falls in the month of February every year, but the data is not fixed.

How is Shrove Tuesday celebrated?

Collop Monday and Shrove Tuesday, the latter of which is also known as Pancake Day, were celebrated with fun games and competitions before Lent when Christians were expected to forgo fun activities like dancing and football, in addition to their dietary sacrifices. One of the most popular activities on this day was the Pancake Races. According to history, a woman living in Olney heard the church shriving bell when she was making pancakes in the frying pan and ran to the church wearing an apron with the frying pan in her hand. To commemorate this, competitors must wear an apron or scarf, flip the pancake three times, and run with a pancake in the hot frying pan to the finishing line. This Olney pancake race is now world-famous. Since the 12th-century, towns used to conduct a special Mob Football game but the tradition died out when the playing of football on public highways was banned in 1835. A small number of towns have managed to continue these traditions in the present day. These fun games are a part of the Pancake Day celebration in English-speaking countries like the UK, Ireland, Australia, the United States, and Canada. At a school in London, a competition called Pancake Grease is conducted. The pupils are gathered in the playground where the chef tosses a large pancake over a 16 ft (4.8 m) high bar. The pupils try to grab a portion of the pancake and the student with the largest piece is awarded a cash prize from the Dean. In Scarborough, a town in England, everyone gathers on the promenade and skips. Long ropes are attached across the road and ten or more people skip together on one rope. This isn't a common tradition on Pancake Day and its origin is not known.

Banana oatmeal pancakes with honey and banana slices.

What happened on Shrove Tuesday in the Bible?

There is no particular mention of Pancake Day in the Bible. It is not a mandate but is instead a personal choice for people of the Christian faith. There are common concepts between the practice of celebrating Shrove Tuesday and the Bible, such as a confession of sins, celebration, and feasting.

Pope St. Gregory prohibited Christians from eating meat, dairy products, and animal foods during Lent around A.D. 600. This fast was called the Lent Fast. The Pope also told St. Augustine of Canterbury, the founder of the Christian church in England, to enforce those same traditional fasting rules.

Why did pancakes become a staple on Shrove Tuesday?

During the Lent Fast, believers are prohibited from consuming dairy products, animal products, and meat. The pancake recipe allowed the people to use up all these prohibited ingredients in one go and start their fast comfortably the next day. The recipe contained, eggs, milk, flour, sugar, fat, and butter. Eating pancakes has been a part of history for centuries and they have been a staple on this day since the 16th century. The ingredients of pancakes hold symbolic value, eggs signify the creation of life, flour is the staff of life, milk signifies purity, and salt signifies wholesomeness.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday then why not take a look at why do boats float, or why do leaves fall.

Kidadl Team
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