Today is pancake day, which means it’s time to dust off your frying pan after a post-Christmas stint of heathy eating and guiltlessly indulge.
Shrove Tuesday isn’t just an arbitrarily named themed day though, it’s rooted in the Christian tradition of Lent, the 40 days leading up to Easter during which people are encouraged to give up certain luxuries as penance.
The day before the beginning of Lent is known as Shrove Tuesday and usually involves making loads and loads of pancakes – topped with everything from the classic lemon and sugar to Nutella, bacon and even smoked salmon.
While most of the fun is in the eating, the trivia’s pretty interesting too, so here’s everything you need to know about pancake day.
Why is Shrove Tuesday today?
Shrove Tuesday is always the day before the first day of Lent, known as Ash Wednesday, which is always 40 days before Easter.
Why does the date change each year?
The date is always 47 days before Easter Sunday, meaning Shrove Tuesday is generally always between February 3 and March 9.
The day when Easter falls changes every year in accordance to the first moon after the vernal equinox.
This year Easter falls on April 1, coinciding with April Fools’ Day
Why is it called Shrove Tuesday?
The name ‘Shrove’ derives from the word ‘shrive’ meaning to free yourself from sin.
Over in the US, Shrove Tuesday is known as ‘Mardi Gras’ meaning ‘fatty Tuesday’ in French.
Why do we make pancakes?
During Lent, Christians are encouraged to give up certain luxuries to atone for their sins.
Flour, butter and eggs were common things to give up, so making pancakes is a great way to use them up, plus they act as a great vehicle for any other sweet or savoury treats you might be planning to quit.
The idea is to get rid of any indulgences and fatty foods in the house before the beginning of Lent.
However, pancake recipes are thought to date back to the Pagan times as a way of using up eggs, flour and milk in one dish.
Some Christians believe that the four ingredients in pancakes represent the four pillars of the Christian faith: flour for sustenance, eggs for creation, milk for purity and salt for wholesomeness.
How do I make pancakes?
Donal Skehan, Ireland’s answer to Jamie Oliver, has this foolproof recipe for pancake batter:
Ingredients (12-14 pancakes):
110g plain flour
2 large eggs
1tbsp melted butter
Sieve the flour into a large mixing bowl and with a spoon make a well in the center.
Break the eggs into the well and using a whisk slowly incorporate them with the flour.
Gradually add the milk and water until you have a light batter.
Heat a little butter in your frying pan over a hot heat, and add 2 tablespoons of melted butter to the batter, stir through to combine.
Add a ladle full of the batter to the hot pan and move from side to side until it evenly covers the surface of the pan.
Reduce the heat and cook for about a minute each side or until the batter begins to take a nice golden colour.
Eat while still warm.