Why do we have a pancake day and what activities can you do?

PANCAKE Day is nearly upon us and is the perfect opportunity to get your flipping skills at the ready.

But what do we celebrate the occasion in the first place, and what activities can you do to make it special?

Why do we have a pancake day?

Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is arguably the best part of Easter celebrations for many of us foodies.

Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras is a Christian festival that marks the beginning of Lent, a period of fasting that is meant to remind us of Jesus' time he was tempted by the devil in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights before his death.

In French-speaking places it is often called Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) and refers to events of the Carnival celebration, beginning on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) and culminating on the day before Ash Wednesday.

Shrove comes from the old English word "shrive", which means "to obtain absolution for one's sins by way of confession and doing penance."

The day always falls on a Tuesday because of the period of time it marks between the start of Lent and Easter.

When did pancake day start?

Pancake Day dates as far back as 1000AD.

It was called Shrovetide in the middle ages, when people would make a point of visiting a priest the week before to confess to all the naughty things they'd done, then be shriven and told what they had to do to make up for it.

Shrove Tuesday is meant as one last hurrah before everything gets sombre and repentant.

They would often ring bells, have a feast and be merry.

In other cultures they take things to another level, with carnivals like the famous one in Rio de Janeiro, and the Venetian masquerade.

Traditionally families would cook up all the sugary, fatty and fun foods that they were going to give up for the much leaner Lent – usually in the form of a pancake.

What pancake day activities are there?

Of course, eating pancakes is the main activity today, and you can try a whole range of toppings to keep them creative.

These can range from Nutella, or fruits, to a fancy smoked salmon, creme fraiche and dill.

You could even make a fun shaped one, and kids may enjoy Asda's Peppa Pig pancake pan.

Families or couples could have a flipping contest, to see how many full flips their pancake can do in a minute.

This pancake day is taking place in lockdown, so you could have a virtual pancake dinner over Zoom with family or pals.

Here are our top pancake day puns, memes, jokes and quotes.

And here are some simple recipes, from gluten-free to Slimming World.

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