Shrove Tuesday: The History Behind the Pancake Holiday

Posted on March 1st, 2019 by Chip's Restaurants

European women flipping their Shrove Tuesday pancakes!

What is Shrove Tuesday?

Shrove Tuesday, often known as Fat Tuesday or Pancake Day, is the day of feasting and celebration before 40 days of fasting known as Lent. Celebrated by Anglo-Saxon Christians, participants would attend confession in order to be “shriven” (forgiven for their sins). A bell rang to call everyone to church. This bell came to be known as the Pancake Bell and is still rung today.

Another name for this holiday is Mardi Gras which translates to Fat Tuesday in French. Mardi Gras is largely celebrated in the city of New Orleans, Louisiana. Parades, parties, and feasts dazzled in colors of green, gold, and purple fill the city for two weeks leading up to Fat Tuesday.

So how are pancakes involved?

Shrove Tuesday was the last day to use up eggs, sugar and fats before the fast, and making pancakes was the perfect way to do it! The ingredients of pancakes also symbolize four pillars of the Christian Faith. Flour for sustenance, eggs for creation, salt for wholesomeness, and milk for purity.

What is the Famous Pancake Race?

In the UK, a popular way to celebrate is by participating in a pancake race. The tradition was created in 1445 when a woman of Olney, Buckinghamshire was making pancakes when she heard the bell summoning her to church. In a rush to get to church, she ran, still in her apron and holding her frying pan. The Olney Pancake Race is now the most popular pancake race in the world. Participants must be local housewives and they must wear an apron. The goal of the race is to run while carrying a frying pan with a cooked pancake inside flipping it as you run. In order to win, the woman must successfully toss the pancake three times throughout the race, reach the church and serve the pancake to the bell ringer. Hundreds of women gather every year to participate in this fun tradition!

This year’s Shrove Tuesday lands on March 5th, so be sure to celebrate racing over to your local Chip’s restaurant and devouring some of our delicious pancakes!

Chip’s Family Restaurant
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