Yes! There really is a Pancake Day!
Exciting, isn’t it?!
In honor of this day, which falls on Tuesday February 24th in 2009, I have collected bits of information on the history of Pancake Day and lots of links and a few fun pancake poems.
Pancake Day is celebrated on Shrove Tuesday which is the day before Lent. Lent is a Christian holiday that was established in the 4th century as 40 days and is generally a period of fasting or other forms of self-denial. People generally eat a lot and have fun the day before Lent begins. Shrove Tuesday is often referred to as Pancake Day because fats, which were generally prohibited during Lent, had to be used up. People would take all the eggs and dairy products that they had left in their kitchens and use them to make delicious pancakes.
In the United Kingdom of Great Britian, Northern Ireland and several other countries around the world, Pancake Day is celebrated with fun, games, and of course a lot of eating. However, the most well known activity on this day is the Pancake Day race at Olney in Buckinghamshire, England which has been held since 1445. It all began 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. Little did she know that this would start a tradition that would be around for over 500 years!
Only women are allowed to participate in this race. They must run a designated path with a frying pan and end up at the church. They must have a hot pancake in the frying pan which they must flip at least three times before they complete the race. The first woman to complete the race and arrive at church with the pancake is declared the winner. She then serves the pancake to the bellringer and is rewarded with a kiss from the bellringer called the “Kiss of peace”. This race still occurs in England and in several other cities.
Here are a few poems about pancakes:
The Pancake Collector
by Jack Prelutsky
Come visit my pancake collection
It’s unique in the civilized world
I have pancakes in every description,
Pancakes flaky and fluffy and curled
I have pancakes of various sizes
Pancakes regular, heavy and light
Underdone pancakes and overdone pancakes
And pancakes so perfectly right
I have pancakes locked up in the closets
have pancakes on hangers and hooks
There are bags in boxes and bureaus
And pressed in the pages of books
There are pretty ones sewn to the cushions
And tastefully pinned to the drapes.
The ceilings are coated with pancakes
And pressed in the pages with crepes.
I have pancakes in most of my pockets
And concealed in the lining of suites
There are tiny ones stuffed in my mittens
And large one packed in my boots
I have extra of most of my pancakes,
I maintain them in rows on these shelves
And if you say nice things about them
You may take a few home for yourself
I see that you’ve got to be going
Won’t you let yourselves out by the door?
It is time that I pour out he batter
And bake up a few hundred more
by Christina Rossetti
Mix a pancake,
Stir a pancake,
Pop it in the pan.
Fry the pancake,
Toss the pancake,
Catch it if you can.
Who wants a pancake,
Sweet and piping hot?
Good little Grace looks up and says,
“I’ll take the one on top.”
Who else wants a pancake,
Fresh off the griddle?
Terrible Teresa smiles and says,
“I’ll take the one in the middle.”