Today is Pancake day, or Shrove Tuesday (as it is known here in the UK) – the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. ‘Shrove’ stems from an old English word ‘Shrive’ meaning to ‘confess all sins’. Hence traditionally Shrove Tuesday was a day when people asked forgiveness before Lent. On this day pancakes were cooked and eaten as a means of using up stocks of milk, eggs, butter; of which people were abstinent during Lent.
There are a great many customs associated with Pancake Day throughout the UK and Ireland. ‘Lent Crocking’, for instance, saw children passing from house to house asking for pancakes. If their request was refused broken crockery was thrown at the door! A further custom, nay superstition, included the belief that the first three pancakes cooked were sacred. Each would be marked with a cross, then sprinkled with salt to ward off evil spirits, before being set aside.
In my homeland of Scotland, special oatcakes called Bannocks were made using oatmeal, salt and eggs and cooked on a griddle. A small charm would be added to the dough and if an unmarried person found it, they would be married within the year.
Today pancake races are a popular event throughout the UK. The aim being that you run as fast as you can whilst tossing a pancake in a frying pan. Some races are carried out in fancy dress whilst others have teams of people doing a relay. All are great fun to watch!
So whether you are running with your pancake through the streets or simply cooking it traditional style and serving with lemon juice and sugar – Enjoy! And Happy Pancake Day!