Pancake Day

Yesterday (17 February 2015), was Pancake Day in Australia.

I first heard of Pancake Day when i moved to Australia, so i had automatically assumed that it was created purely because an Aussie had wanted a day dedicated to Pancakes (there are restaurants in Australia called the Pancake Manor and the Pancake Parlour, so this just cemented my theory).

About 5 years ago, when one of my colleagues made pancakes for everyone (because it was Pancake Day) I asked why it had been created, and was surprised to find out that it is actually a religious festivity which happens the day before Lent starts.

I’m not a religious person, but my Grandma is and when I was growing up I had a few friends who were very religious. Because of this I had heard of Lent, but never knew that you got to eat Pancakes the day before it! I guess because that’s not what they did in New Zealand.

For those of you that haven’t heard of Lent, it is a period of time (approx 6 weeks leading up to Easter Sunday) during which people of several denominations of Christianity may observe it by fasting of giving up certain types of luxuries.

During my research I found out some thing which I never knew:

  • Pancake Day is traditionally called Shrove Tuesday (shrove comes from the word shrive meaning to “absolve”
  • It’s also been called “fat Tuesday” which refers to eating more indulgent foods before Lent starts.
  • When translated to French Fat Tuesday becomes “Mardi Gras” – yes that’s right, the famous festival celebrated in New Orleans.

For year’s I’ve wanted to go to Mardi Gras and thought it was just an annual Festival to celebrate the city of New Orleans. How wrong was I?!

So how has it become Pancake Cake day here in Australia (also known as this in UK, Ireland and Canada)? Well i found that out as well.

During pagan times the change of season from Winter to Spring, it was believed that Jarilo (the god of vegetation, fertility and springtime) struggled with the the spirits of cold and darkness. The people made and ate the hot, round pancakes, which symbolised the sun. They believed that by eating the pancakes they got the light, warmth and power of the sun and this in turn helped Jarilo to bring on the start Spring.

I don’t know if any of this is actually true, but as long as it means a whole dedicated to making and eating Pancakes, why not?


Do you observe Pancake Day?


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