Von voyage reporter Jessica Tan
What's in a name?
Shrove Tuesday is the term used in English-speaking countries for the day before 'Ash Wednesday' (the first day of the season of fasting called Lent). It is also known as Pancake Day and Pancake Tuesday in the UK and Ireland. In Germany this day is called 'Fastnacht' and it is known as 'Mardi Gras' (Fat Tuesday) in France and the USA.
Traditionally, Shrove Tuesday is a day of celebration and the last chance for people to indulge before the fasting season of Lent begins. Lent is the period before Easter in the Christian calendar. It is a time of abstinence when people normally give up a type of food that gives them pleasure in remembrance of the forty days and nights that Jesus in the desert.
Pancakes are traditionally eaten on the day before Lent because in the past they were a way to use up rich foodstuffs such as eggs, milk, and sugar. The type of pancake made in the UK is a very thin, flat cake made of batter and fried in a pan. There are many ways to eat your pancake, but covered with lemon and sugar is a particular British favourite!
Pancake Day traditions
Family and friends often get together on Pancake Day to make delicious pancakes for all to enjoy. Part of the tradition is that everybody has to have a go at flipping the pancakes in their pans - there's always one person who ends up with their pancake on the kitchen ceiling!
Pancake races are thought to date back to 1445 when a woman lost track of the time when cooking pancakes on Shrove Tuesday. She heard the church bell ringing for a service and ran all the way to church still carrying her frying pan and wearing her apron! Pancake races are held in villages and towns across the UK but the most famous is held in Olney, Buckinghamshire. This tradition involves people carrying a frying pan (traditionally housewives) racing through the streets, tossing pancakes into the air and catching them in the pan whilst running!