The History Of Pancake Day

Pancake stack
Charlotte Bowers

Pancake Day, formally known as Shrove Tuesday, is one of the best British celebrations that falls the day before Ash Wednesday. The phenomenon arose as part of Shrove Tuesday, which is intended for Christians to be “shriven” and confess their sins. Traditionally, we celebrated the day by eating pancakes as it was the last opportunity to use up leftover eggs, milk, and fats before the fasting season began (Lent). So, as well as the incredibly tasty aspect, pancakes are the perfect treat before Lent begins! Charlotte Bowers delves into the history of Pancake Day.

The celebration of Pancake Day supposedly originated in 1445 when a woman in Buckinghamshire was busy making pancakes when the church bells rang for Shrove Tuesday, and she ended up running to the church carrying pancakes! Pancake Day has since been a well-known celebration in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australian and Canada. In France, the day before Ash Wednesday is named Mardi Gras which translates to Fat Tuesday, the carnival celebration of eating fatty foods before the fast begins. The carnival Mardi Gras varies across cultures; for some it begins on the Twelfth Night (the beginning of Epiphany) and lasts until Ash Wednesday, and for others it stretches across the three days before Ash Wednesday. “Fat Tuesday” is considered as the last day of eating meat and fatty foods which are then given up for Lent.

Pancake Day has since been a well-known celebration in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australian and Canada

Pancakes Day has become such a popular celebration that 52 million eggs are used in the UK on this day alone! People experiment with a wide variety of pancake toppings that use up leftover ingredients such as bacon, lemons, fruit, chocolate, and many other treats. Some of the most popular sweet toppings are maple syrup, chocolate spread, berries, bananas, whipped cream, ice cream, fruit compote, caramel, honey, and sugar. Others prefer the savoury options such as brie and bacon, eggs benedict, ham and cheese, and many other combinations. The famous lemon and sugar combination is one of the most popular sweet and savoury topping, although some have suggested combining honey and cheese! According to HelloFresh, the most popular pancake topping by a long way is bananas, which had a total of 33,100 average UK monthly online searches in the past year! The second most popular topping was blueberries and then chocolate scored third place! Surprisingly, spinach pancakes were a savoury-favourite, scoring joint 5th most popular alongside apple pancakes. Luckily, the fruit toppings can be served in a variety of forms, either as they come or made into a compote, or caramelised to make a sensational sweet and warming filling!

Different countries seem to create different textures and sizes for their pancakes, for example, the French have thin crêpes and Americans have thick and fluffy pancakes (also known as Scotch pancakes). These pancakes vary significantly although both are frequently used to celebrate Pancake Day! Whether you have your pancakes for breakfast or for pudding (or even replacing the entire dinner), there are a wide range of topping choices to choose from on Pancake Day!

Charlotte Bowers

Featured image courtesy of lukepennystan via UnSplash. Image license found here. No changes were made to this image.

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