Did you recently celebrate Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day?
Although it is enshrined in Christian tradition, it’s believed that Pancake Day might have originated as a pagan holiday, when eating warm, round pancakes – symbolizing the sun – was a way of celebrating the arrival of spring.
The religious association of Shrove Tuesday began because the day preceding Ash Wednesday presented an opportunity to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk and sugar before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The Christian liturgical fasting encouraged eating plainer food and avoiding food that would give pleasure – namely meat, dairy products and eggs.
On Shrove Tuesday, Anglo-Saxon Christians also went to confession and were “shriven” (absolved from their sins). A bell would be rung to call people to confession. This came to be called the “Pancake Bell” and is still rung today.
Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday, so the date varies from year to year and falls between February 3rd and March 9th. In 2021, Shrove Tuesday fell on February 16th.
A traditional English pancake differs from ours here, rather than fluffy, it is a thin, flat cake, made of batter and fried in a frying pan. It is served immediately, with golden syrup or lemon juice and caster sugar as the toppings.
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