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Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day)

When is Shrove Tuesday?

Shrove Tuesday marks the beginning of the period of Lent marked by Christians, 47 days before Easter Sunday.

What is Shrove Tuesday?

Anglo-Saxon Christians went to church for confession, where they were "shriven" or absolved from their sins, but as long ago as 1439, pancakes were first mentioned in a cookery book as being a great way to use up ingredients such as eggs, milk and butter.

Shrove Tuesday Pancakes

Why is Shrove Tuesday celebrated on this date?

Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day is a feast day before the beginning of Lent, in the 40 days leading up to Easter. Traditionally Lent is a period of fasting in the period before Easter, beginning on Ash Wednesday. The exact date of Easter varies each year, and is determined by a lunisolar calendar. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday following the full Moon that occurs on or just after the spring equinox, and so Shrove Tuesday is celebrated 47 days before Easter Sunday.

Of course, the main feature of Shrove Tuesday is pancakes, with the day having become completely commercialised in recent years. Supermarkets have geared up to offering ‘cook at home’ kits to make it easy to create your own perfect pancakes, with cafes and restaurants offering sweet and savoury specialities for those wishing to dine out. However, there are other ways in which Shrove Tuesday is marked, not all of these being about pancakes!

Back since the 1890s, Scarborough has a long history of skipping associated with Shrove Tuesday. Seafront market stalls sold coconuts, gingerbread and liquorice, with skipping events also taking centre stage, with adults and children taking part in games with ropes along the shore.

Shrove Tuesday Skipping

Football and ballgames are also popular throughout the UK, with various events being traditional to certain locations, with events being handed down between generations.

When was Shrove Tuesday first celebrated?

Shrove Tuesday has been celebrated since the early 1500s with legend having it that a busy housewife from Olney in Buckinghamshire, was making pancakes when she heard the call of the ‘shriving bell’ calling worshippers to church. In a mad panic, she took the frying pan from the heat and ran to confession with it in her hand, the women of Olney still dress up in aprons with their frying pans to race to the church door. The first to arrive has to toss her pancake and then receives the kiss of peace, usually from the verger.

Interesting Facts about Shrove Tuesday

52 million eggs are used in the UK on a usual Pancake Day.

In other countries Shrove Tuesday goes by different names. In France and other places, the festival is called ‘Mardi Gras’ (translated into ‘Fat Tuesday’). In Germany it’s called Fastnacht (meaning ‘Eve of the Fast’) and in Iceland it’s called ‘Sprengidagur’ (meaning ‘Bursting Day’).

The first pancakes were made by the Romans in the 1st Century AD and called Alita Dolcia which translates to "another sweet" in Latin.

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