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Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day, is the day before Lent that is traditionally celebrated by both kids and adults eating pancakes. Around the world the day is also referred to as Mardi Gras, literally meaning ‘Fat Tuesday’ in French due to the consumption of rich foods before Lent. This year Lent begins February 10th and Shrove Tuesday falls on the 9th of February, and to help you prepare, Jurys Inn have put together a quick guide on the history and celebrations of Shrove Tuesday, with an easy pancake recipe for you to try.
Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is the Christian festival that celebrates the re-birth of Jesus Christ after his crucifixion, culminating in Easter Sunday six weeks later.
It is common for Christians to confess their sins on Shrove Tuesday - the word ‘Shrove’ comes from the Old English word ‘Shrive’ meaning to confess one’s sins. Traditionally, people would abstain from eating any foods that give pleasure, such as meat, dairy, eggs, fatty foods, and sweets over Lent, and these foods are often indulged in on Shrove Tuesday.
Pancakes became the popular choice of sweet food during this holiday as they contain fat, butter, and eggs - rich foods that would go to waste otherwise. Today, participants often give up a particular sweet food of their own choosing but still celebrate the start with pancakes.
How Shrove Tuesday is celebrated around the World
Besides tucking into pancakes, there are a few ways different cultures around the world celebrate Shrove Tuesday. In many countries the day is known as ‘Carnival’ (often referred to as Mardi Gras) and is often celebrated with large street parades filled with floats, fancy dress and in some countries, as a national holiday.
Schwarzwald am Fastnachts-Dienstag by Eribula / CCBY (image size has been modified)
Known as Fastnachtsdienstag, Germans celebrate by having street processions (known as Karnevalsumzuge) and wearing fancy dress costumes and masks. School children are given half the day off to dress up and get involved in the processions too.
The Sambadrome in the 2004 Carnival by Alan Betensley / CCBY (image size has been modified)
In Brazil, Carnival is one of the largest yearly celebrations. It is renowned for the huge street-party parades that are filled with enormous floats, vibrant colours, and loud music, with participants wearing burlesque costumes and masquerade masks.
Binche by Marie Claire/ CCBY (image size has been modified)
Shrove Tuesday is a particularly important day for the Belgian city of Binche, which celebrates with ‘The Carnival of Binche’. Throughout the city, around 1000 Gilles (the town’s men) wear traditional costumes and large, painted wax masks while dancing to songs lasting from early morning to night.
Mardi Gras Parade, New Orleans by Carol M. Highsmith / CCBY (image size has been modified)
Whilst not nationally observed in the majority of the USA, a number of traditionally ethnic French cities such as New Orleans have large and colourful celebrations. Simply referred to as Mardi Gras, there are a number of spectacular parades, balls and parties (similar to the Brazilian Carnival) that commence from the 6th January and last right up until Shrove Tuesday.
Easy Pancake Recipe
Try your hand at this easy pancake recipe, perfectly accompanied with jam, Nutella, sugar and lemon, fruit, or melted chocolate.
- 100g flour
- 2 eggs
- 300 ml semi-skimmed mil
- Sunflower or vegetable oil
Put the flour into a large mixing bowl and crack eggs into the middle with 50ml of milk and 1 tablespoon of oil.
Whisk from the centre, steadily mixing the ingredients together. Once fully mixed, beat until it becomes smooth and thick – if it is too stiff to beat, add a splash of milk to loosen.
Add a larger splash of milk (around 100 ml) and whisk, then steadily pour in the rest of the milk while continuing to whisk - the batter should have a consistency similar to a thick cream.
Place a pan on a medium heat and add a little oil, covering the entire surface. Pour a ladle of the batter onto the pan and cover the pan with a thin but even layer. Cook for around 30 seconds until it is golden underneath, then prepare to flip (the fun part!).
Hold the pan handle, slide a cooking spatula underneath, quickly lift and turn, ensuring that it does not break or fold. Cook for another 30 seconds before sliding the pancake onto a warm plate. Continue these steps with the rest of the batter and stack them on the plate for serving.