Why Do We Eat Pancakes On Shrove Tuesday?
What is Lent?
Some ideas for pancake filling
The name comes from an old English word which means 'lengthen' as the days are getting longer in spring when it is observed.
Lent is the six week period leading up to Easter and is one of the most important times of the year for Christians around the world.
Lent is traditionally described as lasting for 40 days, in commemoration of the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert. It is a time of reflection and preparation before the celebration of Easter.
Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and finishes on Easter Sunday.
This year in 2022 Lent starts on Wednesday 2 March and finishes on 17 April which is Easter Sunday.
This is a moveable feast based on the cycles of the moon. It is a day that falls between 3 February and 9 March and is often celebrated by eating pancakes, hence the name.
Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday when Lent begins. It is a day of penitence and celebration which is a very old tradition derived from the word 'shrive' when a person would seek absolution from their sins.
The celebration was indulging in food that was not allowed to be eaten during Lent: foods such as meat, fish, fats, eggs and milky foods.
Why do we eat pancakes?
Families would have a feast so that none of this food went to waste. Pancakes became associated with Shrove Tuesday as they were a good way of using up rich foods of butter, milk, sugar and eggs, hence the name Pancake Day.
In the UK, Ireland and Commonwealth countries Shrove Tuesday is commonly known as Pancake Day, whereas elsewhere it is often called Mardi Gras which is French for 'Fat Tuesday'.
People nowadays often give things up for Lent, usually a luxury and an obvious thing is chocolate, so chocolate Easter eggs are then consumed on Easter Sunday.
What to give up - photo by Sharon Tate Soberon
The most common things people give up for Lent:
A luxury item
Pancake Day in 2022 is Tuesday 1 March so get your ingredients ready and enjoy some lovely pancakes.
A traditional pancake recipe from Fiona Michie, Food Correspondent
4 oz plain flour
1/2 pint milk - whole is best but skimmed and semi-skimmed work fine
1/2 tsp fine salt
butter for frying
Put all the ingredients in a large mixing bowl
Using a balloon whisk, electric whisk, or one of those hand cranked double whisks, whisk the ingredients into a smooth batter. Make sure there are no lumps and you want bubbles on the surface (get as much air in there as you can)
Heat a flat bottomed pancake pan / skillet / small frying pan over a medium heat
Add an almond-sized piece of butter and roll it around to cover the pan with a thin layer of butter
Pour in just enough batter to make a thin pancake - the trick is to move the batter around as soon as it hits the pan by tipping the pan both ways and rolling your wrist in a sort of circular motion so that you get the full circle of the pan covered
Allow to cook until the pancake is loose enough to move when shaken forward and back (pancake cooking is all in the wrist)
Now flip it. Shake loose with the forward/back wrist motion and toss it up. Your arm should create a sort of circle moving away from you, up and back to catch. Don't be tentative, be bold and confident or you will end up with semi-folded messes rather than decent pancakes. Of course you can turn them with a spatula, but where's the fun in that?
Cook on the other side for a very short time (toss again if you dare, to see how it's doing)
Tip on to a plate and add your choice of fillings
The last week of Lent is called Holy Week which starts on Palm Sunday and culminates with Easter Sunday. Easter is the most important Christian festival which is celebrated with great joy when Easter eggs are enjoyed. Eggs are a symbol of new life and Easter Sunday is the day that Jesus rose from the dead, showing that life triumphs over death.