The Origins and Traditions of Pancake Day on Shrove Tuesday.

Songbird BStarred Page By Songbird B, 27th Feb 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/90aqs8jc/
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Culture>Festivals

Shrove Tuesday falls on March 04th this year, not only acknowledged as the eve before Lent, but also known by many as Pancake Day. Here in the UK, it is one of the varied traditions celebrated by men, women and children throughout the country, with fun Pancake races, fancy dress, and raising money for charity..
The humble Pancake has quite a history..but just how did it all begin...?

Pancakes and Childhood Memories.

Mix a Pancake,
Stir a Pancake,
Pop it in the pan..
Fry a Pancake,
Toss a Pancake,
Catch it if you can..


By Christina Rossetti 1830-1894

I remember as a child, how excited my brothers and I used to get whenever Pancake Day came around..Mum was a great cook, and we would devour those tasty Pancakes almost as soon as she had put them on the plate..They certainly never hung around for long!
Drizzled with lemon juice and sugar, the British traditional way of serving them, they proved a tasty treat to celebrate Shrove Tuesday.
Of course there was also the excitement of seeing them 'flipped' as well, and my mother had a fine dexterity with a frying pan that I could never emulate..
Thinking about it now takes me back to those childhood days so long ago.

As I grew into adulthood, such celebrations passed me by. I had no children of my own, so Pancake Day became just a fond memory of my past. Time moves on for us all I guess and childhood memories stay just that..
Nothing more would have come of this, if a dear friend and fellow Wikinut writer, hadn't challenged me to write an article about this long held traditional celebration.
My first thought was to laugh it off, after all just how interesting could an article be about Pancakes of all things? Oh how wrong could I be...

So What is Pancake Day all about?

It wasn't until I started to research about Pancake Day that I realised just how much history it had behind it, and that came as a real surprise.. Maybe there was something here after all..

Pancake Day falls on Shrove Tuesday, and this year it will fall on the 04th March 2014, as it commemorates the eve of Lent, before Ash Wednesday. Lent is a period of 40 days and nights of fasting and prayer before Easter within the Christian faith.
Shrove or Shrive as it used to be known, was the time to confess any sins and ask God for absolution.

Because ingredients such as milk, sugar, butter and eggs were forbidden over Lent, the frugal womenfolk would make Pancakes so not to waste such valuable commodities. It was their last chance to partake in rich food before this religious period of abstinence.
Shove Tuesday was once known as a half-holiday in Britain, and would officially start at 11am by the ringing of church bells within the town, city or village.

How the Tradition of the Pancake Day Race began..

It is said, so history relates, that a woman was busy making Pancakes on her griddle when she suddenly heard the pealing of the bell calling the village folk to church. Realising she had to confess her sins and she would be late, she rushed out the door still clutching her pan with the half-cooked pancake still inside it and ran all the way to the local Parish church to get there on time..and hence the tradition was born..

The tradition of eating Pancakes is actually over a 1000 years old, and the very first recorded Pancake Race was in Olney in Buckinghamshire, England, in 1445.
Today, Olney and many towns and cities across the UK and indeed across the world, celebrate Pancake Day by running and tossing Pancakes into the air and catching them in their frying pans, along a set route. The first through the finish line with his/her pancake still in the pan is the winner! These races are now mainly run to raise money for local charities, but a fun day is had by all.

Hard though it is to believe, even our official UK Parliamentarians, a rather staid bunch usually, take part in an annual Pancake Day Race Contest. There are usually three teams, consisting of the House of Lords, the House of Commons and the Parliamentary Press Gallery. The contest is held within the Victoria Tower Gardens, Westminster, London in support of the Rehab Charity, which assists people with disabilities, brain and spinal injuries and mental health difficulties. A worthy cause indeed as I'm sure you would agree.

Pancake Day Customs.

As with any celebration, customs and traditions usually follow in its wake, and Pancake Day is no exception to the rule.
One of the more slightly dangerous customs would be 'Lent Crocking'. Children would go from house to house asking for Pancakes from the householder, and if none were forthcoming, broken crockery would be thrown at the door! I can just see how Health and Safety would feel about that one today, let alone the local police!

There was also 'Shroving', a more gentile activity where children would sing songs or recite poetry at the door for food or money reward.

In Ireland, young women would be given the afternoon off from their usual duties to make the Pancake batter. The eldest unmarried young woman would be chosen to flip her pancake first, and if successfully caught within the pan without breaking, marriage would follow within that first year!

Scotland had its custom too regarding Pancake Day, as the Scottish folk would bake Bannocks, an oatcake baked on a griddle consisting of oatmeal, eggs and salt, plus adding into the doughy mix, a lucky charm! The custom dictates, if a unmarried women located the charm within her selected oatcake, it indicated marriage within the twelve months. It was a happy lass indeed who bit into a lucky charm.

Wales, should not be overlooked either. Their custom so it is said, had people going from house to house, asking for flour or butter to make their own Pancakes. Bit cheeky really but at least you got to meet the neighbours!
Also, the raucous kicking of tin cans up and down the streets of certain parts of Wales by young children, was suppose to commemorate the laying aside of all pots and pans throughout Lent. Bet those kids had the time of their lives doing that!

Savoury or Sweet Pancakes, the choice is yours..

The great thing about Pancakes of course, is that they are so very versatile! You can make them with eggs, or egg-free, you can make them savoury or sweet, traditional British, or variations from around the world..There really is no limit to this tasty simple snack or part of a meal..You will find recipe's throughout my links should you so wish to indulge your passion for Pancakes too..

So you see, from an idle jest from a fellow writer, this Wikinut author has really had her eyes opened to just how far the tradition of Pancake Day really dates back. You live and you learn as they say..

I don't think I will ever look at Pancake Day in quite the same way again..

Now where is that frying pan of mine.....I'm off to make me some Pancakes! Happy Shrove Tuesday folks!

(Be warned, tossing a Pancake isn't always as easy as it looks! Epic Pancake Failures to make you chuckle).

Credits and Acknowledgements:

If you enjoyed this article, feel free to check out Songbird B's portfolio.

Further articles on Origins and Traditions by Songbird B:


The Origins and Traditions of St David's Day.
The Origins and Traditions of St George's Day.
The Origins and Traditions of St Patrick's Day.
The Origin and Traditions of Mothering Sunday.
The Origins and Traditions of Valentines Day.
February 29th..A Ladies Privilege To Propose. A Leap Year Tradition.
Remember, Remember the 05th of November.


Would you like to see your work published online and get paid royalties for it? Why not come and join the Wikinut family of Writers.

Mix a Pancake Poem by Christina Rossetti
All images supplied by Wikimedia Commons with grateful thanks.
Embedded videos courtesy of Youtube with thanks to their creative contributors.

Tags

04Th March, Abstinence, Confession, Easter, History, Lent, Olney, Origins, Pancake Day, Pancake Race Charity Runs, Pancake Recipes, Pancake Variations, Pancakes, Religion, Religious Beliefs, Shriving, Shrove Tuesday, Songbird B, Songbird B Articles, Tradition, Traditional Food, United Kingdom

Meet the author

author avatar Songbird B
Hi there! I am Songbird B, and I am a semi-pro female Jazz vocalist. I have a huge passion for Jazz music, and I love writing Poetry, which I have done all my life. I am very Spiritual in my beliefs, and love Photography, Music and Garden Design....I...(more)

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Comments

author avatar Delicia Powers
28th Feb 2014 (#)

Just wonderful...:0). I had my first try of lemon (instead of my usual maple syrup) on my pancakes right there in the UK many years ago... with a delightful bit-a dusting of confectionery sugar...and yes it was in celebration of Shrove Tuesday...great page, and memories...! Lemon pancakes now for sure for us on this Tuesday ...many thanks Songbird!...:0)

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author avatar Songbird B
28th Feb 2014 (#)

I am so glad you enjoyed Delicia..This has been a lot of fun to write, and who knew there could be so many videos and info out there regarding Pancake Day? lol Must admit, I think we will be indulging in a few Pancakes on Tuesday now too! Thanks for looking in on me dear friend..\0/xxx

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author avatar Jerry Walch
28th Feb 2014 (#)

Very interesting article, indeed, Songbird B. Personally pancakes isn't one of my favorite foods, I ate far too many of them as a kid growing up on three farms.

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author avatar Songbird B
28th Feb 2014 (#)

Hi Jerry, nice to see you here on my page.. Haven't had proper pancakes for years, but seeing all those savoury and sweet recipes, I could well be tempted..There is so much history connected to this day..\0/x

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author avatar Mariah
28th Feb 2014 (#)

Oh Bev what a blinder of a post, still laughing at the pancake song, and the failed pancake making video, just hilarious!! Can you imagine running along the road to confess your sins with your frying pan in your hand
ha ha ha just too good..the pancake race is mad, what great fun..
You've really made my day with this, so glad you wrote this, thanks Bev xx

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author avatar Songbird B
28th Feb 2014 (#)

Wasn't that pppppp..Pancake song great Mariah?!!! lol It is so catchy and humorous.. I found so many links that I was spoilt for choice, but there are lots of tempting recipes out there..
That poor little lad made me chuckle as his pancake slowly slipped off of his pan, bless him! Such a fun article to do and oh boy! I know far more about pancakes now than I ever knew..LOL Delighted that you enjoyed it so much and checked out the videos too dear friend. \0/xxx

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author avatar richardpeeej
28th Feb 2014 (#)

Another one of your articles full of your taleneted wit and hilarity Bev.
I really loved reading this one and am looking forward to a few pancakes next Tuesday myself. We bought the ingredients in readiness when we went shopping yesterday. Thanks for the smiles they enhance the lovely sunny day we are having here today in the East Midlands..take care xx

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author avatar Songbird B
28th Feb 2014 (#)

Well dear Rich, you were the one to blame for this article since you challenged me to do it lol, but I have had so much fun working on this, so thank you so much for suggesting it..Enjoy your Pancakes on Tuesday! \0/xxx

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
28th Feb 2014 (#)

I actually quite enjoy pancakes for dinner too but of course they are more of a breakfast item here.
Good history lesson and explanation of Pancake Tuesday.

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author avatar Songbird B
28th Feb 2014 (#)

Thank you Mark, that praise from someone I respect so highly means a lot to me. Thank you for moderating my page and the Star merit too. It was Richard peej who challenged me about this subject, but I'm glad that I accepted his challenge. It has been a learning experience indeed.
Bless your heart for looking in on me and posting..\0/x

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author avatar Carol
28th Feb 2014 (#)

Whar a great article Bev, informative and interesting too , well done!

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author avatar Songbird B
28th Feb 2014 (#)

Hi Carol..thanks for looking in on me my friend..Glad you enjoyed! \0/x

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
28th Feb 2014 (#)

Nice piece, but I would like my panckaes nice and hot! Thanks for sharing our holy Saints traditions, mine is St Patty's! Go Swans!

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author avatar Songbird B
28th Feb 2014 (#)

Thanks for looking in on me and posting Fern! Yep, somehow cold or lukewarm pancakes aren't quite the same are they? Great to see you here..\0/x

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
28th Feb 2014 (#)

What a fascinating piece - the videos truly hilarious, the composition and presentation marvelous. Who else but the British could come up with a pancake day?

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author avatar Songbird B
5th Mar 2014 (#)

Thanks Steve! lol..Yes, us Brits are certainly batty enough, but what an enjoyable piece this was to write. I had no idea that there was so much to Pancake Day either.. Glad you enjoyed the videos..The ppppppp..pancake day one makes me smile every time..Hugs \0/xxx

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author avatar Poetic2984
28th Feb 2014 (#)

Hello how are u glad to see u again. Hope all is well

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author avatar Songbird B
5th Mar 2014 (#)

Hello dear Poetic. Good to see you too my friend. Yes all is well I'm glad to say. Just took some time out to write my own poetry book, but am back at Wikinut now and hope to catch up with more of your poetic verses my friend. Thanks for looking in on me..\0/x

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author avatar angel_jenny
1st Mar 2014 (#)

cant wait till Tuesday for my pancakes :) x

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author avatar Songbird B
5th Mar 2014 (#)

Hope you enjoyed your pancakes Jenny! Lovely to see you here..\0/x

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author avatar Md Rezaul Karim
2nd Mar 2014 (#)

So nice informative and interesting item to share..

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author avatar Songbird B
5th Mar 2014 (#)

Thank you so much Md Rezaul for looking in on me and posting..Glad you enjoyed \0/x

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author avatar Sivaramakrishnan A
2nd Mar 2014 (#)

Interesting post Songbird, I learnt a lot about this day, the history behind it and also how to make (and not to make) this tasty meal! Good that we do not forget our traditions and they also bring out the innocence and camaraderie of those days that we try to relive. Enjoyed every ingredient of this wonderful post! siva

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author avatar Songbird B
5th Mar 2014 (#)

Ah dear Siva, it is always such a pleasure to find you here upon my page dear friend. I love some of these traditions however wacky they may seem..Who would have thought so much history could be related to Pancake Day of all things? Glad you enjoyed dear Siva..\0/xxx

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
3rd Mar 2014 (#)

missed this one I did..but so glad you write here about Pancake day...I remember my Mum used to toss the pancake mid and it would land on the ceiling and my sisters and I would watch it drop...we also used to toast bread on a fork in front of the gas fire...oh those days of yore...still love the taste of english pancakes with lemon juice and sugar sprinkled on top..yummy

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
3rd Mar 2014 (#)

i meant mix not mid!!!!

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author avatar Songbird B
5th Mar 2014 (#)

Hi Carolina, yes I recall some disasters my mum occasionally had with flipping the pancakes if she got too adventurous! lol.. We had had one or two end up on the ceiling too! Amazing how they stick! hahahaha..\0/x

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author avatar Tranquilpen
3rd Mar 2014 (#)

Would you believe it! my wife is just busy making up a batch right this minute, (synchronicity) Thanks for sharing Bev. Nice to see your'e still well my friend

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author avatar Songbird B
5th Mar 2014 (#)

Bet that made you smile seeing this article then dear Andre'..lol. Pancakes always made such tasty snack, whatever fillings you use..Hope some recipe ideas helped.. Great to see you here on my page too dear heart. All is well..\0/x

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author avatar Kingwell
5th Mar 2014 (#)

Who would think that there would be such a great story behind Pancake Day? Pancake Day was always fun when we were kids but I don't hear much about it today.

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author avatar Songbird B
5th Mar 2014 (#)

I know Kingwell, I was actually really surprised to find out just how much history this subject had! I think it does tend to be more of a kids thing, as we haven't had pancakes in years, but some of the recipe links make me think they might be worth a try.. Great to see you, thanks for dropping by my page..\0/x

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author avatar Carol Kinsman
8th Mar 2014 (#)

Another very interesting article and well deserving of a star page! The videos were so entertaining!! I knew nothing of the origins of this delicious dish. Oh how I miss my morning pancakes with lots of maple syrup of course. LOL Since becoming raw vegan, I have found nothing that makes a good substitute for these. Thank you for this interesting and educating post, dear friend! xoxo

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