Today is Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day.
Shrove Tuesday is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday and is therefore the final day before the beginning of Lent, a Christian festival leading up to Easter Sunday.
It is traditional that people in the UK eat pancakes, toss pancakes or participate in pancake races.
The origins of eating pancakes started with Christians who observed Lent and wanted to use up all the rich foods in their cupboards before it. During Lent, eggs, sugar and butter were not allowed so these ingredients were used to make pancakes.
Today everyone celebrates Pancake Day regardless of religion.
As you can see in the photograph, an English pancake is a thin, flat cake made of butter and fried in a frying pan. In films you can see that it is normally served from the 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 put golden syrup or jam on their pancakes.
Click here for the recipe.
Pancake races are held all over England. The object of the race is to get to the finishing line first while flipping a pancake in a frying pan a pre-decided number of times. The skill lies not so much in the running of the race but in flipping and catching the pancake, which must be intact when the finishing line is reached.
The most famous pancake race takes place at Olney. According to tradition, in 1445 a woman of Olney heard the shriving bell while she was making pancakes and ran to the church in her apron, still clutching her frying pan.
The Olney pancake race is now world famous. Competitors have to be local housewives and they must wear an apron and a hat or scarf.
Each contestant has a frying pan containing a hot, cooking pancake. She must toss it three times during the race that starts at the market square at 11.55 am. The first woman to complete the 375-metre course (the record is 63 seconds set in 1967) and arrive at the church, serve her pancake to the bell ringer, and be kissed by him, is the winner. She also receives a prayer book from the vicar.
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.
Whether you are Christian or not, don't miss the opportunity to taste a pancake. So, indulge yourselves!!!