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

Pancake Day is upon us, which means we now have an official excuse to eat as many pancakes as we want.

Shrove Tuesday, as it is more formally known, is the perfect reason to get your friends and family together for a stack of delicious pancakes.

While some people’s pancake flipping skills are better than others, any pancake fan, no matter what their flavor, knows that 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 a whole day dedicated to them?

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

When is Pancake Day, 2023?

Every year, the city of London turns into a pancake haven, with restaurants and houses cooking up delightful variations of the highly addictive battered cakes and crepes.

However, since this day changes its date every year according to Easter, it is difficult to remember when it is, and why exactly we celebrate it.

This year, Shrove Tuesday falls on 21 February.

Why do we celebrate Pancake Day?

For Christians, Shrove Tuesday is the last day before Lent, traditionally a period of abstinence, which involves clearing your cupboard of items such as sugar, fats and eggs.

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

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

What is the meaning of Shrove Tuesday?

The word ‘shrove’ derives from the English word ‘shrive’, which means “to receive salvation for one’s sins through confession and repentance”. The day gets its unique name from the custom of Christians ‘shrinking’ before the start of Lent. They called for confession with the ring of a bell, which was called the ‘pancake bell’, and it is still held in some churches today.

Why do we flip pancakes?

The pancake has a very long history and appears in cookbooks as far back as 1439. The tradition of throwing or flipping them is almost as old. According to legend, the tradition was born in the 15th century, when a woman in Buckinghamshire went to church to confess her sins while halfway through making pancakes. This tradition is recognized today, in Olney in Buckinghamshire, where competitors have to don an apron and hat or scarf, and throw a pancake three times during a race to the church. The winner is the first person to reach the church and kiss the bell tower.

And according to the poet Pasquil Palin, in 1619, the tradition of throwing or flipping them is to prevent burning:

“And each man and each girl take their turn,

“And throw their pancakes up in case they burn.”

Need some Pancake Day inspiration?

Check out these different food styles…

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

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