The Tuesday before Lent is known as Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday. In 2010 it was enjoyed on 16th February. It is celebrated as Carnival and Mardi Gras in many places of the world.
On that day it is traditional to eat pancakes, toss pancakes and take part in pancake races.
The origins of eating pancakes arose from Christians who observe Lent and wanted to use up all the rich foods in their cupboards before that period. During Lent eggs, sugar and butter were not allowed so these ingredients were used to make pancakes.
A pancake is a thin, flat cake, made of butter and fried in a frying pan. It is served immediately from the frying pan.
Caster sugar (superfine sugar) is sprinkled over the top and a dash of fresh lemon juice added. The pancake is then rolled. Pancakes are served with syrup, partridgeberry jam and sausages.
Different things are added to pancakes such as coins, pieces of string, nails, wedding rings, buttons...
The lucky one to find coins in their pancake will be rich, the finder of the ring will be the first married, the finder of the nail will become a carpenter and the finder of the button will be a tailor.
Pancake races are also very typical on this day. The object of the race is to get to the finishing line first after having run a designated path that ends up at the church whilst flipping a pancake in a frying pan a pre-decided number of times. The skill lies not so much in the running of the race but in flipping and catching the pancake, which must be intact when the finishing line is reached. Only women are allowed to participate in this race.
It all began in 1445 when a woman was cooking pancakes on Shrove Tuesday to use up all of her perishables before Lent. While she was still cooking she heard the chiming of the bells summoning her to church. Not wanting to be late, the woman ran to church with her apron on and the frying pan still in her hand.
Annual Pancake Grease is held at the famous Westminster School in London. A verger from Westminster Abbey leads a procession of eager boys into the playground where the school cook tosses a huge pancake over a five-meter high bar. The boys then race to grab a portion of the pancake and the one who ends up with the largest piece receives a cash bonus from the Dean.
Skipping is also typical on Shrove Tuesday, where everyone assembles on the promenade to skip. Long ropes are stretched across the road and there maybe be ten or more people skipping on one rope.