I have often wondered why we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday but according to Einstein it is because it is a way of using up foods such as; sugar, fat, milk, flour and eggs, whose consumption was historically restricted during the fasting, associated with the 40 days of Lent. The way everyone celebrates Shrove Tuesday can change also although the most common is to have a pancake race. The tradition is said to have originated when a housewife from Olney was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake. The pancake race remains a relatively common festive tradition in the UK, and England in particular, even today. Participants with frying pans race through the streets tossing pancakes into the air and catching them in the pan whilst running.
The races started long ago with the most famous, at Olney in Buckinghamshire, being held since 1445. The contestants, traditionally women, carry a frying pan and race to the finishing line with the winner being the first to cross the line having tossed the pancake a certain number of times. Traditionally, when men want to participate, they must dress up as a housewife.
Scarborough celebrates by closing the foreshore to all traffic, closing schools early, and inviting all to skip. Traditionally, long ropes were used from the nearby harbour. The town crier rings the pancake bell, situated on the corner of Westborough (Main Street) and Huntress Row.
The children of the hamlet of Whitechapel, Lancashire keep alive a local tradition by visiting local households and asking “please a pancake”, to be rewarded with oranges or sweets. It is thought the tradition arose when farm workers visited the wealthier farm and manor owners to ask for pancakes or pancake fillings.
Wherever you are and however you celebrate Shrove Tuesday, we hope you have all had a great day!