The tradition of Pancake Day has delighted people for centuries. It originates from the fact that Shrove Tuesday is the last day before Lent which starts on Ash Wednesday. Lent is the period of 40 days prior to Easter during which Christians fast, avoiding rich foods such as milk, eggs & sugar. These three ingredients, along with all other rich foods, had to be absent from the household when Lent began so hence why they were used up on the day before, Shrove Tuesday.
The word 'Shrove' comes from Shrive, an old English word which means absolution of sins. So clearing the house of rich foods before Lent was a form of absolution. In France, the day is called 'Mardi Gras' which translates as 'Fat Tuesday', referring again to the last day of eating rich foods prior to Lent. As we all know the Mardi Gras celebration has grown into much more than it's humble origins.
So, as you tuck into your pancakes this year, just spare a thought for the more religious amongst your community who will not eat any rich or indulgent foods for 40 days!
On a lighter note, if you want to be successful in flipping your pancakes, make sure that the pancake underside is relatively dry and there is movement across the pan before you flip.
12 February 2013