You may be thinking of what to give up for lent – or why the supermarket shelves are now full with hundreds of Easter eggs?
Before you give up chocolate for six weeks, only to indulge in countless quantities of Easter eggs, Pancake Tuesday will be celebrated.
Pancake Tuesday – also known as Shrove Tuesday – falls in mid-February and marks the day before Lent begins.
So, what date is it and why do we celebrate Pancake Tuesday? This is how the celebrations began, why we observe it - and how to make the perfect pancake.
When is pancake Tuesday?
Pancake Tuesday is on 16 February this year, followed by Ash Wednesday on 17 February, which marks the beginning of lent in the Catholic church.
The day changes every year, according to when lent is.
This is because it always precedes Ash Wednesday, which is exactly six weeks before Easter celebrations begin.
Pancake Tuesday always falls in February or March.
What is the history behind Pancake Tuesday?
Pancake Tuesday is the traditional feast day before Lent begins, and is celebrated across the United Kingdom and parts of the commonwealth.
France and the US celebrate Mardi Gras on this day, as it signifies the end of a six-week carnival season and is also known as ‘Fat Tuesday’.
Its proper name is Shrove Tuesday and it marks the day before Ash Wednesday, when Catholics may begin to abstain from eating meat, eggs and animal produce for 40 days.
Anglo-saxon Catholics would attend confession at their parish church, where they would be ‘shriven’, or forgiven for their sins.
A bell would be rung out for people to attend church, which became known as the pancake bell - as it was rung at noon as a gesture to stop working and begin to prepare your pancakes.
After confession, families would go home to use up any eggs and fats they had before embarking on their lent fast.
The easiest way to use up such produce was to make a pancake-like batter and fry it in fats, as a means of ensuring food did not go to waste.
Why do Catholics fast after Shrove Tuesday?
Many Catholics will give up luxuries such as sweet foods or favourite dishes during Lent.
Traditionally, they would have given up meat and dairy, though fish could still be consumed.
For the hours before Catholics receive their ashes on Ash Wednesday, adult Catholics will often still refrain from eating anything at all.
This is because the Bible tells how Jesus abstained from eating for 40 days and 40 nights on his journey into the desert before he was crucified.
Catholics replicate the sacrifice Christ made, which is known as Lenten sacrifice.
How were pancakes made in the past?
The first recipe for pancakes was recorded in 1439, while the tradition of tossing them dates back to the 1600s.
However, pancakes are thought to have been eaten in ancient roman times, when they were made from wheat flour, olive oil, honey, and curdled milk.
The ‘pancakes’ would then be whipped up into a thin batter and heated on a hot flat rock.
How do you make pancakes?
Pancakes today are much sweeter than they were in the past, and are usually topped with golden syrup.
To make the perfect pancakes for four people, you will need:
225g self-raising flour
40g caster sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 large egg
Salted butter for cooking
(if possible, make your batter a few hours ahead and leave it to set in the fridge)
1. Whisk all the ingredients in a bowl, until the batter is smooth.
2. Heat a frying pan on a medium heat and add a small knob of butter, allowing it to coat the pan with a thin layer of grease.
3. Ladle a dollop of batter onto the pan. When bubbles begin to form on the surface it is time to flip!
4. Cook until the underside turns golden brown.
Serve with any of your favourite toppings.