Next Tuesday most of us will be going flipping mad on pancake day!
But the meaning behind this fun mid-week tea time might be lost on a lot of people.
What is Pancake Day
Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday is traditionally the day before Lent in the Christian calendar.
During Lent, early Christians would fast from food and festivities, and enter a period of reflection in preparation for Easter.
This was supposed to be in homage to Jesus’ time in the desert and subsequent sacrifice.
So, the day before lent on Shrove Tuesday, the ritual of using all the food in the cupboards for one last feast quickly became a tradition and pancakes were born!
What does Shrove mean?
The word Shrove derives from “Shrive”. Back in the early middle ages to Shrive, or to be Shriven, meant to receive absolution for your sins after a confession and doing penance.
Once absolution is received the person is then free from the guilt or pain caused by their sins.
This absolution on the day before lent goes back a long way. There is a written record of people performing this ritual over 1,000 years ago in the Anglo-Saxon Ecclesiastical Institutes.
Why do we make Pancakes?
In a nutshell, pancakes came about to make sure people wouldn’t be wasting food during lent.
Before fridges, all the eggs, milk and other rich food would need to be used up so it wouldn’t go off during the 40-day period of fasting.
Over time, people started to make pancakes. But they may not have looked or tasted like what we eat today!
For a start, meat and fish were cooked up too. In different parts of the world, different fruits became popular.
Why is pancake day on a different date each year?
In modern times we are so used to everything being so regimented and ordered.
Go back a couple of thousand years and people relied on things like the full moons, where the sun rose and set and what stars they could see to work out the time of year.
So even the dates of major festivals like Easter were determined worked out using this method.
As Easter is always on the Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox the date changes each year.
Pancake day is the day before Lent begins and so is always 47 days before Easter Sunday and so it too changes each year.
Ever wondered what the biggest pancake ever was? Think you’ve got what it takes to hold the record for the most flips in a minute?
We had a look at the Guinness Book of Records website for some fun pancake day stats!
The largest pancake was created in Manchester in 1994. It Measured 15.01m across and weighed 3 tonnes, and took a crane to flip over!
Most tosses of a pancake in one minute
Celebrity Chef Brad Jolly holds the records of an incredible 140 flips in a minute in Sydney in 2012. That’s more than 2 a second!
Highest pancake toss
Not something that has ever kept me awake at night, but in 2010 New York witnessed Dominic Cuzzacrea make a flipping massive 31ft 1in. Which is basically tossing a pancake over a 3-storey building!
Most people tossing pancakes
2012 saw 890 people tossing pancakes at the same time at Sheffield University. But it could have been so much more – 40 people had to be discounted for dropping or not managing to toss in time! Probably couldn’t resist and just ate theirs!
Most pancakes thrown and caught in 1 minute
Probably one of the more specific or niche world records out there. Ashrita Furman and Bipin Larkin threw and caught 46 pancakes in 60 seconds in New York in 2009.
Fastest marathon flipping a pancake
Who even thinks to do this? Well, the same person who throws pancakes over 3 storey buildings! Mike “Pancake Man” Cuzzacrea ran the Casino Niagara International Marathon in a pretty respectable 3 hours 2 minutes and 27 seconds in 1999. No mention of how many flips he managed though.
Some Pancake Day Fun Facts!
In France, people make a wish before flipping their pancakes while holding a coin in the other hand.
On average, Brits eat two pancakes each.
People eat Pancakes and Doughnuts in Lithuania. In Finland, it’s green pea soup and pastry. In Iceland eat salted meat and peas are the preferred Pancake Day feast.
Pancake Day races are common across Britain in towns and villages. In the village of Olney the traditional Pancake Day race has been run since 1445!
Pancake Day can fall anywhere between February 3 and March 9.
In the USA it’s known as Mardi Gras, which is French for ‘Fat Tuesday’.
How do you make a pancake?
Every home in the land has its own way of doing it. But If you’re unsure see our recipe for basic pancakes below.
For the pancake mixture
110g/4oz plain flour, sifted
pinch of salt
200ml/7fl oz milk mixed with 75ml/3fl oz water
Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.
Make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it.
Whisk the eggs into the flour.
Add small quantities of the milk and water mixture while whisking. Keep going little by little until all the liquid has been added and whisk until the batter is smooth.
Melt the butter in a frying pan and add 2 tablespoons full into the batter and keep the rest to oil the pan.
Get the frying pan very hot, then turn the heat down to medium and fry your pancakes so they just coat the bottom of the frying pan.
Have fun tossing!
Now you’ve discovered the meaning behind Pancake Day, why not take a look at the blogs we wrote last year about St Patrick and Mothering Sunday.
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