How Did Pancake Day come about?

Pancake Day, also know as Shrove Tuesday is the day before lent which starts Ash Wednesday which is the day after on the religious calendar. From a religious point of view, it is the time when many Christians, in remembrance of Jesus, abstain from eating any rich foods during lent. This tradition is believed to be the reason why Pancake Day came about…Pancake Day is a way of using up any eggs, milk and other fats from the pantry cupboard.

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In many parts of the world, Shrove Tuesday is also know as Mardi Gras (literally translated, this means “Fat Tuesday” in French). One of the objectives is to eat all the fats and rich foods away from the cupboard before the start of lent  and some people eat as much as possible several times during that day, in preparation of lent.

Be aware that the date for Shrove Tuesday is never the same every year, as this is dictated by the date Easter lands on in the religious calendar. – All to do with the cycle of suns & moons, you can read more about that on Wikipedia if you wish 🙂

According to the Historic UK website, the ingredients used in making pancakes, symbolise the following:

  • Eggs – creation
  • Flour – the staff of life
  • Salt – wholesomeness
  • Milk – purity


Traditions & Trivia associated with Pancake Day

Here are some traditions associated to Pancake Day I was able to discover:

The Larousse Gastronomique states that in France:

Pancakes are traditionally served to celebrate renewal, family life, and hopes for good fortune and happiness in the future. It is customary in France to touch the handle of the frying pan, and make a wish while the pancake is turned, holding a coin in the hand.


There is a pancake race in Olney, Buckinhamshire, UK which was started around 1445 and has been held for over five and a half centuries.

Legend says that the race was started by a woman making pancakes when she heard the bells summoning for Church. Being a devout Church goer she ran to church whilst still holding her frying pan.

They say this started the traditional pancake race  celebrated every year in Olney.

There is also the superstition in France that if your pancake drops on the floor when you are tossing it, this will bring bad luck.

The story goes that Napoleon blamed the defeat of his Russian campaign on a pancake he dropped whilst tossing it (trying to prove to Josephine he wasn’t superstitious – kind of backfired on him).

Do let me know if you can add to these, as it would be fun to know! Alternatively, do you do something totally different before the start of lent?

P.S.  Since lent is all about abstinence, I thought after all the indulgences since Christmas, New Year and Valentines Day, etc. lent would be a good time to keep other consumption, such as wine in moderation, so that is what I intend to do this lent. 🙂  What will you be abstaining from this lent?


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