Have you prepared your batter? Are you ready to cook some pancakes?
Today is the day that people traditionally cook and eat pancakes. Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday is the traditional feast day before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. In some Christian churches it is a day of confession and repentance when people are “shriven” (absolved from their sins). It could be translated as “martes de arrepentimiento”.
Shrove Tuesday (known in some countries as Pancake Tuesday) always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday, so it is very difficult to know the exact day, as it is always determined by when Easter falls.
Pancake Day (or Shrove Tuesday) is the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before embarking on the Lenten fast, and pancakes are definitely the perfect way of using up these ingredients.
While Shrove Tuesday is consecrated in Christian culture, Pancake Day may have a pagan root, as eating soft, round pancakes – symbolising the sun – was a way to mark the coming of spring.
What’s a pancake?
The pancake is a small, flat cake made with batter and baked in a frying pan. The standard English pancake is very thin and served instantly. Golden syrup or lemon juice and caster sugar are the typical pancake toppings.
The pancake has a very long tradition and was used in cookery books as far back as 1439. The custom of tossing or flipping them is almost as old: “And every man and maid shall take their turn, and pour out their pancakes for fear that they may burn.” (Pasquil’s Palin, 1619).
It can be said that the ingredients for pancakes symbolise four points of relevance at this time of year:
- Eggs: Creation
- Flour: the staff of life
- Salt: Completeness
- Milk: Purity
The most famous pancake contest takes place in Olney, Buckinghamshire. Traditionally, Olney’s wife heard a shrivelling bell in 1445 as she was cooking pancakes and hurried to the church in her apron, still holding her frying pan. Olney’s pancake race is today world popular. Local housewives must be competitors, and they must wear an apron and a hat or scarf.
There’s a frying pan that houses a hot pancake for each contestant. She has to throw it three times during the race. The winner is the first woman to complete the course to get to the church, serve the bellringer with her pancake and kiss him.
Do you feel like cooking an eating a pancake? We do!