Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is celebrated in the UK, Ireland and parts of the Commonwealth on a Tuesday in February or March by gorging on pancakes before the 40 days of Lent.
Always preceding Ash Wednesday, Pancake Day falls 47 days before Easter.
Many Britons take to the streets to participate in pancake races.
In other countries, the day is celebrated with a carnival and is referred to as Mardi Gras, or ‘Fat Tuesday’, the last night of eating fatty foods before the fasting period of Lent begins.
When is Pancake Day?
Pancake Day falls on Tuesday, February 16 in 2021, 47 days before Easter on Sunday, April 4.
However, Pancake Day will always be between February 3 and March 9.
Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is celebrated in the UK, Ireland and parts of the Commonwealth on a Tuesday in February or March by gorging on pancakes before the 40 days of Lent
What is Shrove Tuesday?
The phrase ‘Shrove Tuesday’ is derived from the word ‘shrive’ meaning ‘absolve’ and Christians consider any wrongs they may need to repent on this day.
Being the last day of the Shrovetide season, those who observe Shrove Tuesday will make a sacrifice, most commonly indulging in food, before starting the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday.
Pancakes are eaten as a meal on Shrove Tuesday because it was a good way to use up rich and fatty foods such as eggs, milk and sugar before the 40 days of Lent.
During Lent, many Christians would refrain from eating food that would give them pleasure such as meat, dairy products or eggs.
Other than eating Pancakes, the UK has a rich history of celebrating the day in weird and wonderful ways.
In the 17th-Century, many English towns held Shrove Tuesday mob football games.
In Ashbourne, Derbyshire, the Royal Shrovetide Football game still takes place each year.
Pancake Day was also once a ‘half holiday’ and pancake races would be held and still occur in towns and villages across the UK.
The tradition started in Olney, Buckinghamshire when a housewife, while making pancakes, is said to have lost track of time and raced to church still carrying her frying pan and tossing it to prevent it from burning.