Pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday to give it its correct name, always falls the day before Ash Wednesday which marks the start of Lent.
The name Shrove Tuesday comes from the old word ‘shriving’, which means to listen to someone’s sins and forgive them. In Anglo Saxon times in England, Christians would go to church on Shrove Tuesday in order to confess their sins and clean their soul. It was a day of deep reflection and soul searching before the 40 days of Lent fasting leading up to Easter.
Pancake Tuesday became a great day for using up the rich food that would not be consumed during Lent, such as eggs, milk and butter. In the olden days fasting and abstaining were taken very seriously during lent. Meat was banned, and most Irish families only ate one small meal per day.
Around the world Pancake Tuesday is known by other names, such as Mardi Gras (literally “fat Tuesday” in French), In Germany it’s called ‘Fastnacht’ (meaning ‘Eve of the Fast’) and in Iceland it’s called ‘Sprengidagur’ (meaning ‘Bursting Day’).
Today, people continue to whisk up these yummy treats on Pancake Tuesday — and they add all kinds of tasty toppings, too, such as chocolate, fruit and ice-cream!