WHAT’S THE STORY? Everyone likes the idea of tossing a pancake today but do you know why we do it?
Pancake Day is more formally known as Shrove Tuesday, and is the traditional feast day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Lent is what the 40 days leading up to Easter are known as and it was traditionally a time of contemplation and fasting. People went to confession on Shrove Tuesday to be absolved of their sins or “shriven”. The bell that called the congregation to this service came to be called the “Pancake Bell” and is still rung today.
Artist – Pieter Aertsen
Today many people use Lent as an appropriate time to give up consuming a particular food or drink which represents a personal sacrifice – in the past this list would have included eggs and fats. Shrove Tuesday was the last opportunity to finish off any of this produce still in your larder and pancakes were the perfect treat. It is thought that the ingredients for pancakes came to symbolise four points of significance at this time of year:
Eggs: Creation – Flour: The staff of life – Salt: Wholesomeness – Milk: Purity
Pancakes themselves have a very long history and featured in cookery books as far back as 1439. The tradition of tossing or flipping them is almost as old: “And every man and maide doe take their turne, And tosse their Pancakes up for feare they burne.” (Pasquil’s Palin, 1619). They’ve never gone out of fashion and today’s pancake makers are making them into works of art – take a look at this:
However you like yours, (I’m a fan of cherry jam), have a wonderful Pancake Day.