Growing up in a Catholic household, I am well versed in Lent. For those of you not in the know, Lent is a time of abstinence, of giving things up in the weeks leading up to Easter. For a kid growing up in a semi-observant Christian household, this may have boiled down to cutting out grape Pixy Stix or not watching first run episodes of Flipper (He’s faster than lightning btw). It’s not like we gave up Television or refined sugar altogether. In a ten year old brain, this was a gesture grand enough to get you past Sister Joan, our Church’s resident cranky Nun during Sunday School class.
Pancake Day (also known as Shrove Tuesday) is the last day before Lent for which it’s a Catholics duty to eat as many pancakes as they can in a poorly heated Church Hall of their choosing . As per Sister Joan’s rules, Eggo’s were never an acceptable substitute and consumed only by lazy heathens via their wicked toasters.
Historically, Shrove Tuesday was always the last chance to indulge yourself and use up the rich, desirable foods that weren’t allowed during Lent. Since they contain fat, butter and eggs, pancakes were a perfect symbolic treat for such a gesture. I mean, who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner? The name Shrove comes from the old word “shrive” which means to confess. Something we Catholics are big on. On Shrove Tuesday, in the Middle Ages, people used to confess their sins so that they were forgiven before the season of Lent began.
Shrove Tuesday precedes Ash Wednesday and is therefore the final day before the commencement of Lent which lasts until Easter Sunday. So it’s a day to indulge yourself in a tall stack knowing full well this is the last time you set foot in an IHOP for some time.
Many different countries observe Lent in different forms & names but the main theme of penitence & celebration remain.
- United Kingdom, Canada,Ireland, and Australia – Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day or Pancake Tuesday
- Brazil – Terça-feira gorda – Fat Tuesday – the final day of Brazilian Carnival.
- Greece – Apocreas, which means “from the meat” since they don’t eat meat during Lent, either.
- Sweden – Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday).
- USA In Catholic and French-speaking parts of the United States this day is called Mardi Gras.
- Germany – “Fastnacht” (Also spelt “Fasnacht”, “Fasenacht”, “Fasteloven” (in the Rhine area) or “Fasching” in Bavaria.)
- France – Mardi Gras which means Grease or Fat Tuesday.
- Iceland – The day is known as “Sprengidagur” (Bursting day).
Curious Flapjack Facts: Batter up!
- The practice of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday can be dated back as far as 1000 years ago.
- A French tradition is to often make a wish while turning the pancake during the cooking process, while holding a coin in the other hand.
- The first recipe for pancakes were listed in the 15th century, in a English cookbook.
- The world’s largest pancake was cooked in Roch-dale Manchester in the year 1994, which was around 15 meters in diameter, weighed three tons, and had a whopping two million calories.
- United States maple syrup production in 2011 totaled 2.79 million gallons.
- Taking the easy way to make your pancakes is not a new thing. The first ready-mix food which was sold commercially was Aunt Jemima pancake flour. It was invented in 1889 in St. Joseph, Missouri. It wasn’t very popular at the beginning.
- William Shakespeare loved pancakes so much, that he mentioned them in his plays.
- If you use baking soda along with butter milk as an ingredient for pancakes, the baking soda, will remove the acidic properties that often come with butter milk, thus a better tasting pancake.
- Long ago, before baking soda was invented, cooks often used freshly fallen snow, as a secret ingredient which contained ammonia, that made pancakes come out fluffy.
- On 6 May 2009 in Missouri, a new Guinness World Records for most pancakes served in an hour was set at 956.
- Guinness World Records title for the highest pancake toss ever is shared by two men at 7.77 m (25 ft 6 in)
- Major League Eating Champ Crazy Legs Conti claimed a dubious record by chowing down 3 & 1/2 pounds of pancakes and bacon in 12 minutes.
- Shrove Tuesday used to be a great day for cock-fighting in England. Cockfighting was introduced to Britain by the Romans.
- English superstitions note that in the Midlands, the first pancake made was given to the chickens, to ensure their fertility during the year. It was also believed that the first three pancakes cooked were sacred. They were each marked with a cross before being sprinkled with salt and then set aside to ward off evil.
- On Pancake Day in Newfoundland, Canada, items are placed in the pancake batter before it is cooked to foretell the future for family members. If a boy received an item for a trade, it meant he would enter that trade. If a girl received an item for a trade, it meant she would marry a person from that trade.