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Why do we have Pancake Day?

As a sweet treat fiend, Shrove Tuesday, otherwise known as Pancake Day is a firm favourite occasion on the calendar for me! Syrup, chocolate, lemon, sugar…my mouth is watering at the thought!

I find it interesting to see how traditions evolve and how different generations mark different occasions, and in this blog post we’re going to look at exactly why we have Pancake Day and how it was originally celebrated compared to now.

Why do we have Pancake Day?

The traditional Christian feast day Shrove Tuesday originates from Anglo-saxon England, and is the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Lent is the 40 days before Easter that marks the length of time that Jesus spent fasting in the desert.

Traditionally, Christians would mark the occasion by abstaining from a whole range of foods such as meat, eggs, fish, fats and milk. The word ‘shrove’ comes from the old Roman Catholic practice of being ‘shriven’ meaning to confess one’s sins.

However, before abstaining from certain foods for Lent, they had to remove all temptation…

This took place over a number of days and was known as ‘Shrovetide’. Meat would be eaten up on Collop Monday (a collop is a thin slice of meat), and on Shrove Tuesday, eggs, butter and stocks of fat would be used up. With one of the easiest ways to dispose of these items being to turn them into pancakes. From this point onwards, a tradition was born!

Pancake Day Facts!

Now for some completely random, but mind blowing facts about Pancake Day.

Did you know that…

  • In total, Brits use 52 million eggs on Pancake Day (22 million more than an average day!)
  • The largest pancake ever made measured 15 metres
  • An average person will eat 7,300 eggs in their lifetime
  • Andrei Smirnov from Russia ate 73 pancakes in one hour
  • Before baking soda was invented, cooks would use snow in their pancakes as it made them soft and fluffy in texture
  • The highest pancake toss reached 3.29 metres high
  • The largest number of pancakes tossed in the shortest amount of time is 349 tosses in two minutes