The time of year when people across the UK chuck pancakes around their kitchens is almost upon us (image: Adobe)
If Pancake Day is normally the highlight of your February, you might well be wondering where it’s got to in 2022.
It means it’s supposed to be the last chance we get to eat sweet and fatty things, like pancakes.
So where has this tradition come from - and when will Pancake Day take place in 2022?
Here’s everything you need to know.
What is Pancake Day?
While it is all about pancakes these days, Pancake Day actually marks the Christian feast day of Shrove Tuesday.
The word ‘shrove’ is said to have derived from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘shrive’, which meant a person had gone to confession at church and been absolved of their sins.
It’s the last day before the start of Lent - a fasting period commemorating the 40-days of fasting Jesus did in the desert before Easter, according to the Bible.
While Lent now sees people give up one luxury until Easter, for example chocolate, it used to involve clearing your larder of all the good stuff, such as sugar, butter and eggs.
Pope Gregory I is believed to have started this custom in around 600AD.
Given sweet things and fats were not allowed during Lent, people had to find a way to use them up - and pancakes were an ideal way to do it.
It’s not known when pancakes first made an appearance on Shrove Tuesday.
The first written record of a pancake in the UK comes from 1439 - although they are believed to have been eaten in other European countries for centuries before then.
What other Pancake Day traditions are there?
Aside from eating pancakes, Shrove Tuesday also has two other traditions in the UK: pancake races and football.
Pancake racing usually involves people in fancy dress running down a street flipping a pancake in a pan.
The most famous of these races takes place in Olney, Buckinghamshire.
It is thought to have originated in 1445 when a woman in the town heard the church bell sound for the Shrove Tuesday service while she was in the middle of cooking her pancakes.
In a panic, she ended up running to the church clutching her frying pan, spawning the annual race.
One of the other notable races takes place in the grounds of the Houses of Parliament.
The Shrove Tuesday football match - otherwise known as ‘mob football’ - is another tradition.
These games date back as far as the 12th century and can involve thousands of people.
The aim of the game is to get a ball from one end of a town or village to another.
But don’t expect to see the sort of silky skills you get in the Premier League - there are no rules and pretty much anything goes.
Victorian highways legislation stopped most of these games from taking place, but the tradition lives on in a few places around the UK.
The most famous Shrove Tuesday football game is held in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, where the annual Royal Shrovetide Football Match is played over two days with goals that are three miles (about 5km) apart.
Is Pancake Day celebrated in other countries?
Shrove Tuesday is more commonly known as Mardi Gras in other parts of the world.
While these occasions also revolve around eating indulgent foods, they tend to have more of a carnival atmosphere - especially in the southern states of the USA.
New Orleans in the US is well-known for its Mardi Gras celebrations, which involve massive parades and lots of drinking.
When is Pancake Day 2022?
Pancake Day always falls 47 days before Easter Sunday, meaning it can fall on any Tuesday between 3 February and 9 March.
In 2022, Shrove Tuesday will be on almost the latest date it can possibly be - Tuesday 1 March.
Pancakes typically come in two varieties:
- European style (tend to be thin and flat)
- US style ones (thicker and fluffier)
Here’s a quick and easy recipe to make European pancakes:
- Put 100g of plain flour, 2 large eggs, 300ml of milk, 1 tablespoons of sunflower or vegetable oil and a pinch of salt into a bowl or large jug, and then whisk until you have a smooth batter.
- Put a greased pan over a medium heat and, when it gets hot, pour in enough batter so it spreads around the base of the pan.
- When one side turns golden, flip your pancake to fry the other side and repeat.
A top tip is to keep your oven on a low heat setting so you can keep your pancakes warm whilst you cook a batch up.
And don’t forget to pair them with lemon juice, chocolate or whatever else works for you.
For American style pancakes, you want to do the same process but add two tablespoons of melted butter and caster sugar - as well as a teaspoon of baking powder - to your batter.
This will make it thicker when you pour the mixture into a pan and you will see the pancakes rise as they cook, giving you the distinct rounded look of an American pancake.
And before you get munching, make sure to top it with lots of maple syrup.
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