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Why Do We Eat Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday?

Shrove Tuesday, or “Pancake Day” as a lot of people commonly refer to it, falls on the 25th February this year. But what’s the big deal behind this sacred day? And why do we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? It’s one of the most adhered to traditions of Britain’s religious calendar – after all, who doesn’t love pancakes? Certainly not us!

In this post, we’ll outline everything you need to know about Shrove Tuesday. Plus, we’ll provide some of our favourite recipes for you to mix it up and try out this Pancake Day. Read on to find out more.

We’ll cover:
  • What is Shrove Tuesday?
  • Why Do We Eat Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday?
  • Our Favourite Pancake Recipes
  • How Bowland Food Hall is Celebrating Shrove Tuesday


What is Shrove Tuesday?

Like Easter, Shrove Tuesday falls on a different date each year. This is because it’s calculated by the cycles of the moon. It’s the day that precedes Ash Wednesday, which marks the first day of lent. It’s typically a carnival day for some countries, who see it as the last chance to indulge in unhealthy treats before giving them up for lent the next day.

Some countries, particularly France, see Shrove Tuesday as “Mardi Gras”. This directly translates to “Fat Tuesday” which refers to the last day of eating richer, fatty foods before kicking off the lenten season on Ash Wednesday. Christianity is the main religion that follows this day and period.

Shrove derives from the English word “shrive”, which means “to obtain absolution for one’s sins by way of confession and penance.” Christians would be called to confession, also known as “shriven”, to approach their local priest and open up to them about anything they’d like to share or confidential secrets. They were called by the ringing of a bell, which became well-known as the pancake bell.

You don’t have to be religious at all to celebrate it. Some people celebrate the day purely because of their love of pancakes. It’s celebrated all over the world but mainly in Europe. In the UK, historically people lined the streets for games of mob football or took part in pancake flipping races. However, we think we’ll leave that to them and just enjoy eating ours at our own leisure.

Shrove Tuesday at Bowland Food Hall | Holmes Mill


Why Do We Eat Pancakes on Shrove Tuesday?

So, why do we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? And why is it such a long-standing tradition?

Lent marks the 40 days before Easter, in which Christians give up fatty foods and unhealthy treats to acknowledge Jesus’ time fasting in the desert. Traditionally, it would be marked by prayers and fasting, along with abstaining from a whole range of foods including meat, fish, fats and milk.

So, Collop Monday and Shrove Tuesday were seen as a chance to eat the items in your cupboards to remove the temptation. Typically, meat and fatty foods were eaten on Monday, with eggs, stocks and fats being used up on Shrove Tuesday. So, an easy way to put all of them together into a tasty treat was making pancakes – and the tradition has lived on from there.

In the past, these two days were filled with festivities. This included children calling round the local area singing songs in hope for pancakes in return – this is sort of similar to trick or treating at Halloween but instead of sweets, pancakes were the favoured treat. If they weren’t satisfied and received nothing at all, they would often throw stones at house windows. We can see why this tradition died out.


Our Favourite Pancake Inspiration

Some people prefer the British classic with a simple dash of sugar and lemon juice, whereas others like to get creative with their pancakes. We’re all about trying out new things and are crazy for new flavours. So, here are a couple of our favourite pancake inspirations for you to try out at home this year.

American Fluffy Pancakes

Americans tend to like their pancakes drowned in maple syrup with added bacon for breakfast, or filled with fruit and sweet toppings for dessert – and it’s easy to see why. They’re delicious and for one day only we can look past the huge calorie count. Light, fluffy and delicate, these pancakes will melt in your mouth.

Smaller in diameter than the classic British pancake, you can enjoy a stack of these to enhance your meal. Layer your fillings and toppings between each pancake for added flavour and extra presentation points. Why not get creative with them? Try different fruits and toppings other than your classic blueberries to give your pancakes a tasty twist..

French Crepes
One of the most popular French delicacies, you can’t beat crepes. Not only are they amazing, but they’re so versatile. We love them filled with chocolate and when they’re still hot and fresh from the pan. Or, why not try them with orange sauce, butter and caramel for the perfect shrove Tuesday treat?

Can you master the flip? Or will your ceilings be at risk? Crepes are light enough for you to go for the flip, if you’re feeling confident enough. If you’re not feeling up to it and don’t want to see a perfectly good crepe go to waste, then just use the spatula to remove any chance of you ruining your efforts.


How Bowland Food Hall is Celebrating Shrove Tuesday

At Bowland Food Hall, it’s no secret that we love pancakes. Plus, we love encouraging people to try new things – whether that be cooking your own, or trying new types of pancakes. Pancakes are a fun way to cook with the family but don’t be too down-hearted if you’re not the best flipper in the family.

We serve pancakes all year round. So, Pancake Day is the perfect time for us to show off what our amazing team can create. Pop down to the food hall on Pancake Day and enjoy our American style pancakes with a range of toppings, from Nutella and banana to berries and creme fraiche. They’re a firm favourite at the Food Hall and are the perfect meal to kickstart your day. Or enjoy them at any time on Pancake Day!

If you want to get stuck into the festivities at home, we have all the ingredients you need to create that perfect stack. Browse our Bowland Free Range Eggs, Farmhouse Flour and indulgent sweet toppings. Or, if you’re watching the waistline, opt for our low calorie syrup. We also have gluten-free pancake mix for our GF and vegan friends, so no-one has to miss out!

Shrove Tuesday at Bowland Food Hall | Holmes Mill


How Are You Celebrating Pancake Day This Year?

It’s safe to say that Pancake Day is one of the nation’s favourite traditions throughout the year. How could anyone not like the idea of gorging on pancakes all day and it being acceptable?

We know that everybody is busy, so if you haven’t got time to make your own pancakes, there’s no need for you to miss out. Pop down and see us at Bowland Food Hall and we’ll gladly help supply your pancake fix.

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