In the UK, Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Day (or Pancake Tuesday to some people) because it is the one day of the year when almost everyone eats a pancake.
Pancake Day ( also known as Shrove Tuesday) is the last day before the period which Christians call Lent. It is traditional on this day to eat pancakes.
Lent is a time of abstinence, of giving things up. So Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to indulge yourself, and to use up the foods that aren’t allowed in Lent. Pancakes are eaten on this day because they contain fat, butter and eggs which were forbidden during Lent.
Shrove Tuesday is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday and is therefore the final day before the commencement of Lent, a Christian festival leading up to Easter Sunday (Easter Day).
Shrove Tuesday always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday, so the date varies from year to year and falls between 3 February and 9 March
The name Shrove comes from the old word “shrive” which means to confess. 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 is a day of celebration as well as penitence, because it’s the last day before Lent. Throughout the United Kingdom, and in other countries too, people indulge themselves on foods that traditionally aren’t allowed during Lent. Pancakes are eaten on this day because they contain fat, butter and eggs which were forbidden during Lent.
In pre-Reformation times in England towns, the church bell was rung on Shrove Tuesday and came to be known as the “shriving bell.” This in time was called the “pancake bell,” so closely identified was the day with that article of food.
Pancakes and fritters,
Say the bells of Saint Peter’s,
runs the old rythme about the bells of London. And in an almanac fro 1684 is found:
Hark I hear the pancake bell
And fritters make a gallant smell.
Not all liked Pancake Day, the Puritans of England looked upon with a jaundiced eye and in a cookbook from England during that time in the 17th century wrote
pancakes are made with water, eggs, “spices and magical, tragical enchantments’ and of “sweet bait which ignorant people devore very greedily.”
What is an English Pancake?
A pancake is a thin, flat cake, made of batter and fried in a pan.
The photograph shows a pancake
being cooked in a frying pan.
Caster sugar (superfine sugar) is sprinkled over the top and a dash of fresh lemon juice added. The pancake is then rolled. Some people add golden syrup or jam.
Other names for Shrove Tuesday
United Kingdom, Ireland, and Australia – Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day or Pancake Tuesday
Brazil – Terca-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).
“In Sweden it is called Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday). We eat a Fettisdag buller. This is a round bun with the middle part scooped out and replaced with Marzipan with whipped cream. The top of the bun is placed back on sprinkled with icing sugar.”
“Another tradition in Sweden is to eat Pea soup with pancakes afterwards and on every Thursday all year round.”
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.)
In France they call it Mardi Gras, which means Grease or Fat Tuesday.
The name Fat Tuesday comes from the ancient custom of parading a fat ox through Paris on this day. The ox was to remind the people that they were not allowed to eat meat during Lent.
During the Mardi Gras Carnival people disguise themselves and put on crazy masks.
The Carnival in Nice, France, is a wild 10-day celebration featuring daily parades, concerts, street theatre and more. People wear giant masks.
“Eating crepes on Candlemas Day
will bring a year of happiness”
“The French name for Candlemas, Chandeleur” comes from the word “Chandelleur” which means candle. It was custom for the people to bring back the lighted candles from church to assure good crops for the year to come and to chase the evil.
In France it is custom to prepare “Crepes” for “La chandeleur”, which symbolises, wealth, good crops and health for the year to come.
Its form and colour evoke the Sun which is finally returning after the dark winter. It keeps the mould away from the crop and protects the home from harm. Pancakes must be tossed with a coin in the hand so as to ensure prosperity throughout the year. Whoever manages to toss his pancake without dropping it on the ground will have good luck until the next Candlemas.
Also, it is said that Pope Gelasius I, who introduced Candlemas into the Catholic Church, often gave crepes to people who made the pilgrimage to Rome.”
In Iceland the day is known as “Sprengidagur” (Bursting day).
In Canada – “They add things to pancakes such as coins, pieces of string, nails, wedding rings, buttons… all cleaned of course ha ha”
The lucky one to find coins in their pancake will be rich, the finder of the ring will be the first married, the finder of the name will become a carpenter and the finder of the thimble will be a seamstress or tailor.
“Everyone here looks forward to Pancake Day. Pancakes are served with syrup, partridgeberry jam and sausages.”
In Poland – , Shrove Tuesday is “Sledziowka” (“sledz” is a herring in Polish). The most popular dish on that day is herring in various styles. Polish people organize parties to celebrate the end of the Carnival. The parties finish at midnight when the official period of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday. Doughnuts and “faworki” are eaten on the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday. There are a lot of competitions choosing the most delicious doughnuts and the press is full of information on the results of various degustations giving assessments of particular bakeries and doughnut producers by more or less dignified juries.
Shroves, Or Struwen
3 cup flour
1 pinch salt
1 pkg yeast
3 heaped spoonfuls powdered milk
1/2 cup raisins (or less or more as you like)
( Use the powdered milk just because it’s convenient, but use warm milk if you like).
Mix the ingredients in a mixer until the batter is a sort of “runny jelly” consistency. It shouldn’t be watery. Leave to stand for about 1/2 hour to 3/4 hour with a cloth to cover in a warm place. It will rise.
When risen, melt some butter (or use sunflower oil, if you prefer) in a frying pan and ladle mixture into the pan to fry. The size should be about 8cm (2 3/4 inches) in diameter. When the batter on top is not liquid any more, turn over and fry other side (just like normal pancakes).
These are great either with syrup, on their own.
4 c flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tblsp sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
4 tblsp butter
Sift the dry ingredients and rub in the butter. Add just enough buttermilk so that the batter pours easily, like heavy cream. An egg may be added if desired. Bake on a lightly greased griddle.