Why Do We Have Pancake Day? History Behind Shrove Tuesday
two plates with pancakes in a pile and berries
Photo by Jaqueline Pelzer on Unsplash

Why Do We Have Pancake Day? History Behind Shrove Tuesday

Jasmyne Jeffery February 14, 2023

Valentine’s Day has been and gone and all the romantics have had their fix. Now, it’s time for the true event of February to get the recognition it deserves. That’s right, Pancake Day is almost upon us and our stomachs are growling already. Whilst we wait for the day to arrive, let’s learn a little history behind Pancake day, including and the Shrove Tuesday meaning.

There are two types of people in this world: the ones that look forward to Valentine’s Day, and the ones that look forward to Pancake Day. Honestly, only one has their priorities straight. The day of the delicious stackable snack which you can inundate with whatever toppings you chose is just what we need to get us out of these winter blues and looking forward to Spring. However, we must wait before we can devour them until the day itself. So, let’s learn all about the day to get yourself in the pancake mood.

Why Do We Have Pancake Day?

As you know, Pancake Day is more traditionally known as Shrove Tuesday. The day occurs exactly 47 days before Easter Sunday and marks the start of lent — the 40 days before Palm Sunday. You’ve probably heard of people giving up things for lent, most commonly alcohol, smoking chocolate etc, but it’s actually intended for giving up any indulgence before fasting.

If you think about the ingredients used for a pancake, it’s actually the perfect opportunity for using up what was left in your larder. Milk, butter and eggs couldn’t be eaten during lent, so whip them together with a bit of flour and you’ve got yourself a delicious pancake.

In french, the day is known as Mardis Gras, or fat Tuesday. This is because you eat the ingredients in your kitchen that night, before beginning a fast. Over the years, we’ve added various toppings to the pancake (which often cause family feuds). Really, you should just be using what’s leftover in your kitchen. However, we can’t blame you for adding some Nutella or lemon to your pancake.

Photo by Jaqueline Pelzer on Unsplash

Why Is The Shrove Tuesday Meaning?

The day always takes place on a Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. According to History Extra, ‘Shrove’ comes from the word ‘shrive’ which means absolution, or a formal release, after giving a confession. People would use the day to reflect upon their sins and use that for inspiration for lent. It wasn’t just for getting healthy or being nicer, but being a better Christian.

Again, traditionallythe day was when people offloaded their confessions and sins before starting lent. A bell would be rung in the town, summoning those for confession. Nowadays, some people still ring a ‘pancake bell’ when the tasty treat is ready to be eaten.

Shrove Tuesday is also for burning the palm trees used in the previous year’s Palm Sunday activities. The ash formed from burning the leaves is then used on Ash Wednesday.

Easter was then used to have a huge feast to celebrate the end of fasting. Lots of us still have a roast on Easter Sunday. However, we all know what food the day has become known for.

Now you now a little more about the day, those pancakes will go down even nicer. Remember, the whole point of the day is to become a better person; start thinking about how you might make improvements over lent, just to give them up as Easter roles around!

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Jasmyne Jeffery is a full-time Entertainment and News Writer on university-themed website Freshered and HITC, and joined the company having previously worked in a freelance role. She attended the University of South Wales where she was also a student blogger and graduated in 2022 with a first-class honours degree in English and Creative Writing. Now, she puts her creativity to use reviewing university bars, Love Island episodes and the latest apps any 18-25-year-old is using.