Pancake Day 2019: Where did Pancake Day originate from? Why do we celebrate it?
Pancake Day, otherwise known as Shrove Tuesday, is the traditional feast day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Lent begins on Wednesday, March 6 and is a time of repentance, fasting and preparation for the coming of Easter. Ash Wednesday occurs 46 days – 40 fasting days, not counting Sundays which are not fast days – before Easter Sunday.
Shrove Tuesday is celebrated this year on March 5 and always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday and so the date changes year on year.
The day can fall as early as February 3 and as late as March 9.
Last year Shrove Tuesday fell on February 13 and in 2020 it will be on February 25.
Pancake Day was the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before Christians embarked on the Lenten fast.
And pancakes are an ideal way to use up these key ingredients of flour, eggs and milk.
Pancake ingredients are also said to represent the four pillars of the Christian faith – eggs for creation, flour as the mainstay of the human diet, salt for wholesomeness and milk for purity.
A pancake is a thin, flat cake made of batter and fried in a frying pan.
A traditional English pancake is very thin and served immediately. Lemon and caster sugar are the usual toppings for pancakes.
The name Shrove comes from the old middle word ‘Shriven’ meaning to go to confession or to repent for what you have done.
Lent always starts on a Wednesday and so people went to confession on the day before.
This became known as Shriven Tuesday and then Shrove Tuesday.
The custom of making pancakes still continues today and in many UK towns and villages pancakes races are held on Shrove Tuesday.
In other countries Shrove Tuesday is known as ‘Mardi Gras’ which translates to mean ‘Fat Tuesday’ in French and also comes from the idea of using up food before Lent.
Many countries around the world have Mardi Gras celebrations and carnivals.
Some of the most famous are in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, New Orleans in the US, Venice in Italy and Sydney in Australia.
In Rio the streets are filled over several days leading up to Shrove Tuesday, with large processions of people marching, singing and dancing.
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