Pancake Day Date in the current year: February 13, 2024

Pancake Day Many Christians observe Shrove Tuesday, the day before the beginning of Lent. Even those who do not fast often celebrate the day by eating pancakes or crêpes. Because of this, Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Tuesday or Pancake Day in the United Kingdom, Ireland, and some other countries.

Since many Christians commit to fasting during Lent, it became customary to indulge in foods they intend to give up on the last day of Shrovetide. Pancakes became a popular Shrove Tuesday treat because they contain rich foods that are supposed to be given up during the 40 days of Lent (eggs, butter, milk and sugar) and need to be used up.

The custom of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday originated in Britain and dates back to the 16th century. Pancake Day celebrations in the English-speaking world involve a number of festive traditions, such as pancake races and pancake breakfasts.

A pancake race is a competition where contestants run down the street carrying frying pans, tossing pancakes into the air and catching them in the pans. One of the biggest pancake races in the United Kingdom is the Rehab Parliamentary Pancake Race held in London. It aims to raise awareness of Rehab, a charity working to empower disabled individuals.

The race features three teams representing the House of Commons, the House of Lords, and journalists (the Fourth Estate). Participants must complete a lap of Victoria Tower Gardens with a pancake in a pan without dropping it while wearing an apron and a chef hat.

The town of Onley in Buckinghamshire that is considered the birthplace of pancake races holds an annual friendly competition with the town of Liberal, Kansas. Both towns organize a pancake race with an agreed-upon course; to determine the winning town, the times of the competitors from both towns are compared.

Whitechapel, a tiny hamlet in Lancashire, has its own unique Pancake Day tradition similar to trick-or-treating. On Pancake Day, local kids go from house to house and ask “please a pancake” to be rewarded with sweets or oranges. It is thought that the tradition originated when poor farm workers visited wealthy farm owners to ask them for pancakes or pancake fillings.

In Ireland, pancake tossing on Shrove Tuesday was used as a form of divination. The eldest unmarried daughter in the family would toss the first pancake. If it fell on the floor, she would remain unmarried for the next year. By the way, Shrove Tuesday was a popular wedding day since weddings were not permitted during Lent.

Many Christian congregations observe Pancake Day by organizing pancake breakfasts. A pancake breakfast is a public meal where volunteers cook large quantities of pancakes for people in attendance, sometimes as a means to raise funds for charities and schools. The tradition is especially popular in Western Canada, where pancake breakfasts take place not only on Shrove Tuesday, but also throughout the year to celebrate other holidays and major events.

Pancake Tuesday should not be confused with the unofficial National Pancake Day, which is celebrated in the United States on September 26.

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Pancake Day, Pancake Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, pancake races, pancake breakfasts