Today is Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day

Today, in many towns and villages across Britain you will see people taking part in pancake races!

Dashing through the streets in fancy dress with frying pans in their hands, tossing pancakes into the air and (hopefully) catching them as they run.

The rules are strict and anyone caught dropping their pancake is disqualified.

One of the most famous, is that outside the Houses of Parliament in London where politicians dressed in crazy costumes compete in front of an enthusiastic crowd!

pancake1Most of the events are held to raise money for charity. The tradition is said to have originated in 1445 when a housewife from Olney, Buckinghamshire, was so busy making pancakes that she forgot to look at the clock. When she heard the church bells ringing for the service, she raced out of the house still carrying her frying pan and pancake, tossing it as she ran.

Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday. In Britain it was celebrated by Christians as a day of repent and confession. The word “shrove” comes from the old English “shrive”, which means to confess. The church service was followed by a feast of pancakes. People made pancakes to use up the eggs, milk and sugar, before the 40 day fasting season of Lent began.

These days it is common to give something up for Lent. Sweets, chocolate, alcohol, coffee or meat are just some of the things that people deny themselves at this time of year. Will you give something up for Lent? What will you choose?