Why do we actually celebrate Pancake Day? A deep dive…

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Shrove Tuesday is officially upon us – but why is Pancake Day celebrated?  

You would be forgiven for thinking that Pancake Day, which falls on February 21 this year, is little more than an excuse for many of us to stuff our faces with light, fluffy pancakes and every topping possible (not that you need an excuse, we might add). But actually, that’s not the case.

So where did the tradition come from and who decided that a day full of pancakes should be prescribed to us all? Whoever it was, we need to thank them – so, we did a deep dive…

why do we celebrate pancake day?

It’s time for pancakes again, people! (Credit: Unsplash)

Why is Pancake Day celebrated?

We started to celebrate Pancake Day all the wall the way back in 600 AD, when Pope St. Gregory first announced that Christians shouldn’t eat meat or other animal products (like eggs, butter and milk) over Lent.

To remind you, Lent is basically the six weeks before Easter, and whilst people mark it in varied ways today, traditionally it is seen as a spiritual time to self reflect and cut out indulgences and foods they find particularly pleasurable – like pancakes.

That’s right – made with eggs, milk and sugar, a pancake is basically all those little luxuries wrapped into one. No wonder they taste so great. 

So people started to celebrate Pancake Day as an opportunity to get rid of their rich ingredients before the Christian period of Lent started.

READ MORE:The best pancakes around the world to honour Shrove Tuesday

Traditionally, eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday is particularly symbolic – the four key ingredients symbolise the four pillars of Christianity: flour is the ‘staff of life’, eggs represent ‘creation’, milk is for ‘purity’, and salt reflects ‘wholesomeness’.

Nowadays, our TikTok and Instagram feeds are so full of pancakes of every variety on Shrove Tuesday that it’s fair to say the celebration has somewhat transcended its original purpose.

Whether it’s that or you just think they’re damn tasty, Pancake Day is a longstanding tradition today, whatever your faith. In fact, 52 million eggs are used in the UK alone each year to mark the occasion. That’s a hell of a lot of pancakes…

why do we celebrate pancake day?

Pancake Day is celebrated no matter your faith today (Credit: Unsplash)

Where does Pancake Day come from?

Pancake Day as we know it comes from the UK, and begun after the Pope St. Gregory told St. Augustine of Canterbury to implement his lent fasting rules over here.

St. Augustine, who founded the Christian church in southern England, did just that and Shrove Tuesday begun somewhat practically as a result.

READ MORE: We tried The Rock’s cheat-day pancake recipe and it was pretty mind-blowing

People begun knocking up a final meal with the ingredients found in a pancake, and the tradition stuck.

The name Shrove Tuesday came about because on Lent a bell would ring to declare it was time to go to church and absolve yourself of your sins (this was also known as being shriven).

As for how the tradition spread around the globe? Read on…

why do we celebrate pancake day?

Pancakes use up rich ingredients before Lent (Credit: Alamy)

Do they have Pancake Day in America or is it a UK tradition?

Whilst Shrove Tuesday (and the name Pancake Day) is specific to the UK, America also has some pancake fun ahead of Lent in the form of a final hurrah called Mardi Gras.

Taking the form of a festival today, with carnivals and parades, Mardi Gras first came about when the UK tradition of using up excess indulgences spread across Europe.

France renamed Shrove Tuesday Mardi Gras (which translates to Fat Tuesday) and eventually it hit the US, where it is big today in places like Alabama and New Orleans. As well as pancakes, they make the likes of waffles, crepes and other desserts like king cake to use up their ingredients prior to Lent. What trend setters we are, ey?

READ MORE: Pancake boards are the internet’s favourite new food trend

Other countries have their own versions of the celebrations, too. In Germany, the day is known as Fastnachtsdienstag and also feature pancakes as a means of using up food, whilst the Netherlands call it vastenavond and typically make their mini version of a pancake, known as a poffertjes.

Spain’s version is called día de la tortilla (or omelette day), and typically sees people eating an omelette made with pork fat. Meanwhile, on Madeira, a Portuguese island, malasadas (fried doughnuts) are eaten on, and they call the day Terça-feira Gorda.

There really is so much pancake fun to be had across the globe…

When is Pancake Day 2024 and why does it change every year?

Whilst it fell on March 1st last year, next year, Pancake Day will land on Tuesday, February 13th.

Then, 2025 will see the day fall on Tuesday, March 4th, and 2026 will see the day return to mid-February (the 17th, to be exact).

Pancake Day arrives on a different date every year because of when Easter is. As with many religious holidays, it is determined by the lunar calendar, hence the variance year-on-year. 

You probably will have gathered by now that Lent falls before Easter and Pancake Day always falls the day before Ash Wednesday – so, that explains why Pancake Day jumps around a bit. 

Got it? Good!

why do we celebrate pancake day

Pancake Day changes date every year (Credit: Alamy)

Twisted pancake recipes to try at home

We couldn’t give you all these juicy morsels about pancake day and then leave you without a pancake recipe or two, obvs.

To ensure you see in Shrove Tuesday right, here are a few of our very best pancake recipes (if we say so ourselves), whether you want something traditional or with a twist.

Red Velvet Pancakes 

red velvet pancakes twisted

These are the pancakes of dreams – trust us (Credit: Twisted)

Yep, you read that right. Red. Velvet. Pancakes.

These come with a thick and ultra-moreish cream cheese icing dolloped on top, and almost look too pretty to eat thanks to some handy red food colouring we had in the cupboard (we said almost).

Scatter some strawberries or a fruit of your choice on at the end and you’re in business.

Chocolate Chip Banana Buttermilk Pancakes

chocolate chip banana american pancakes

Twisted’s American pancakes with banana and chocolate is a winner (Credit: Twisted)

These are a corker for breakfast or beyond. Light, bouncy American-style pancakes are on the menu here, with melty chocolate chips and banana slices scattered on for good measure.

You can throw this together in literally 20 minutes so it’s a great way to honour Shrove Tuesday without all the faff.

Spicy Spring Onion Pancake Tacos

Spring Onion Pancake Tacos with Peanut Butter Pulled Chicken twisted

More of a savoury tooth? We got you… (Credit: Twisted)

Ok, we’ve gone left field here but if you’re after something savoury you simply have to try these.

These pulled chicken tacos are what Mexican dreams are made of, featuring homemade pancake tacos rolled in spring onions and filled with juicy peanut butter.

A feast for the eyes as well as the mouth, these are a step up from your standard pancake. Impress your mates with these this Pancake Day… you know you want to.

Caramelised Banana Double Chocolate Pancakes

chocolate caramelised banana pancakes twisted

Anyone for a caramelised banana pancake stack? (Credit: Twisted)

If you’ve got a super sweet tooth, might we introduce you to these bad boys? To make this recipe, you fry off pancakes on a low heat until they’re caramelised and then layer them within rich chocolate pancakes.

Expect to be on the very best of sugar highs after these…