• Vic

Why do we flip our pancakes? The REAL history of Pancake Day

So we all know the standard religious reason for celebrating pancake day, right? I'll just recap in case you've forgotten.... Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is the traditional feast day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Lent being the 40 days leading up to Easter when you are supposed to give up something you love (no, not your other half) more traditionally eggs and fats and in later years sweets and chocolate.

This is known as 'fasting' and on Shrove Tuesday, Christians went to confession and were “shriven” (no not some weird shrinking process, but absolution from your sins - if only it were that easy...)

However, why do we flip the tasty treats?? Well this bit started in the 15th Century - here is a little reading whilst you are stuffing yourself full of pancakey goodness...

Way back in the 1445 in Olney in Buckinghamshire, a housewife was busy using up her eggs and butter and duly making pancakes before lent started on Shrove Tuesday. Suddenly, she hears the church bells ringing for confession and rushes our of the house to church complete with pancake in the frying pan. On the way she accidentally trips and flips the pancake into the air but manages to catch it back in the pan, and thus the tradition of flipping pancakes is born!

Today, in Olney, there is a world famous race in which local housewives can compete. They must wear an apron and a head scarf and carry a frying pan with a cooked pancake. They race to church and must flip the pancake three times before they get there. In order to win the house wife must give her pancake to the bell-ringer who eats it and then kisses the housewife! (I suspect this part was added on by lecherous bell-ringers over the years..)

I think only one question remains .... what did the first housewife do to drive her into such a panic that she ran to confession with her apron on and pancake still cooking in the pan in her hand!

And just in case you've forgotten how - here is a perfectly good pancake recipe from the BBC

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