Pancake Day: How Did it Start?


Today is Pancake Day. Interestingly, Pancake Day is related to Lent. In case you don’t know, lent is the 40 day period before Easter. Historically, the Anglo-Saxons set Lent aside for fasting.

Pancake Day is also known as Shrove Tuesday. This was an important day for Christians. It’s the day they went to confession. The Pancake Bell (shriving) would ring to remind them to go to confess their sins. The act meant they were shriven (forgiven) of their sins. Have you ever heard the bell? Some churches still ring the bells today.

In those days, on Shrove Tuesday, people had to make sure all the eggs and fats were used. So, the ideal time to do that was just before Lent. So they make pancakes with the ingredients.

Pancakes were made way back in 1439. The custom was to flip them in the frying pan. An old verse ties in with tossing pancakes.

“And every man and maide doe take their turne. And tosse their Pancake up for feare they burne.” ~ Pasquil’s Palin, 1619.


Besides tossing pancakes in the frying pan, pancake races started in Buckinghamshire in the town of Olney. Back in 1445, while a woman was frying her pancake, she heard the shriving bell reminding her of confession. She dashed out of the house wearing her apron with the frying pan still in her hand. She started the trend for the pancake race.

From then on, it was usual to have pancake races. They still have them today. Only local housewives can take part and they must dress in an apron, hat or scarf. The other rule is they should have a hot pancake in their frying pan and toss it three times while racing. The winner is the first woman to reach the church and dish out her pancake to the bell ringer. And he also has to give her a kiss.

Now that you know the history of Pancake Day, I’m going to give you the recipe to make pancakes using real ingredients. This is not the packet one available to buy from the supermarkets.

Pancake Recipe


  • 2 eggs
  • 100g plain flour
  • 300 ml milk
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil (plus a little extra for frying)
  • Pinch of salt
  1. Whisk the eggs lightly
  2. Make a small dent in the flour and add the oil and salt
  3. Pour the whisked eggs into the flour mixture
  4. Add the milk and mix everything together till you get a smooth paste
  5. Put the frying pan on the cooker to warm and add a little oil
  6. Pour the batter mixture into the frying pan
  7. Fry for a few seconds until bubbles appear and the colour turns golden
  8. Flip the pancake over and fry for a few seconds on the other side
  9. Add syrup, lemon or sugar (your favourite topping)

Enjoy your delicious pancake. Share the history with your children, family and friends. It’s good to add to their knowledge because not everyone knows how Pancake Day started. Happy Pancake Day.

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