When is Pancake Day 2023? Why we celebrate and why we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday

When is Pancake Day 2023? Why we celebrate and why we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday

Pancake Day is tomorrow (February 21), which means we now officially have an excuse to eat as many pancakes as we want.

Shrove Tuesday, as it's more formally known, is the perfect reason to invite your friends and family over for stacks of delicious pancakes.

While some people's pancake-flipping skills are better than others, any pancake fanatic knows that, no matter what they taste like, it's all about the toppings.

Some people like to go fancy with fresh berries and cream or keep it simple with lemon and sugar.

Whatever your pancake preference, what could be better than an entire day dedicated to them?

Here's everything you need to know about Pancake Day, otherwise known as Shrove Tuesday:

When is Pancake Day traditionally held?

Every year, London turns into a pancake haven, with restaurants and homes cooking up delightful variations of the highly addictive batter cakes and crêpes.

However, given that the day changes date every year according to Easter, it can be hard to remember when it is and why we celebrate it.

Shrove Tuesday falls on February 21 this year.

Why do we celebrate Pancake Day?

For Christians, Shrove Tuesday marks the last day before Lent, traditionally a period of abstinence. This is associated with clearing your cupboards of goods such as sugar, fats, and eggs.

Pancakes were traditionally eaten on this day to use up such foods before the 40-day fasting season of Lent began. Some believe the four ingredients used in pancakes may actually represent the four pillars of the Christian faith — flour as ‘the staff of life’, eggs as ‘creation’, milk as ‘purity’, and salt as ‘wholesomeness’.

Although the day is important in Christian tradition, Pancake Day is widely celebrated by those outside this faith.

What does Shrove Tuesday mean?

The word ‘shrove’ derives from the English word ‘shrive’, which means “to obtain absolution for one’s sins by way of confession and penance”. Its name stems from the custom for Christians to be ‘shriven’ before the start of Lent. They would be called to confession by the ring of a bell, which became known as the ‘pancake bell’ and is still rung in some churches today.

Why do we flip pancakes?

Pancakes 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. According to legend, the tradition was born in the 15th century, when a woman in Buckinghamshire rushed to church to confess her sins midway through making pancakes. This tradition is recognised today, at Olney in Buckinghamshire, where competitors have to don an apron and a hat or scarf, and toss a pancake three times during a race to the church. The winner is the first person to arrive at the church and be kissed by the bellringer.

A poem from Pasquil’s Palin said in 1619 the tradition of tossing or flipping them was to prevent them burning.

“And every man and maide doe take their turne,

“And tosse their pancakes up for feare they burne,” the poem said.

Need some Pancake Day inspiration?

Check out these varied foodstagrams...

And here are some great recipes to try at home, from savoury blinis with smoked salmon, to mille-feuille crepe cakes.