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Why we have Pancake Day on Shrove Tuesday and how it is celebrated around the world; If you like a party, you'll probably feel very under whelmed by pancake day, compared to Mardis Gras or Carnival.

Byline: Simon Meechan

Ever wondered why - for one day a year at least - Britain becomes obsessed with eating pancakes?

On Shrove Tuesday, the milk, flour and egg mixes become a favourite for families around the country, and are even eaten as an evening meal.

Sweet, savoury and bizarre choices all find their ways to the pancake pan, while cooks get their big moment to show off their flipping skills, which are rarely honed again until the following February or March.

Business go pancake mad too, withgiveawaysandchallenges themed around pancake day.

So why do we holdPancake Dayevery year, and how else is it celebrated around the world?

Traditionally known as Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day is celebrated between February 2 and March 9, depending on when Easter is.

Pancake Day is always the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the day Lent starts. Lent is a 40-day 'fast', where Christians often give up a favourite food or habit, as a nod to the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert in the run up to hisEasterCrucifixtion. Jesus was fasting to ward off Satan's temptations, ahead of his death and ressurection.

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There are a few therories.

As Shrove Tuesday is the final day before 40 days of fasting, it can be seen as a bit of a blow out (more on that later).

So, since ingredients like butter, milk and eggs are both perishable and indulgent, pancake recipes are a chance to get rid of them before Lent begins.

Also, thanks to the versatile nature of pancakes, other treats can be served in them or with them, such as chocolate, sugar or even meat. That makes pancakes the perfect feast day food, ahead of 40 days of giving up a food, product or vice.

How to make the perfect pancake

Pancake ingredients are also considered by some to represent Easter and spring time. The eggs represent creation, flour is the 'staff of life', salt is wholesome and milk indicates purity.

Although Pancake Day is enshrined in Christian tradition, it is believed that it might originate in a pagan holiday, when eating warm, round pancakes - symbolising the sun - was a way of celebrating the arrival of spring.

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The word shrove is a form of the English word shrive, which means to obtain absolution for one's sins by way of confession and penance. Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the custom for Christians to be "shriven" before the start of Lent.

While there is nothing wrong with enjoying a few pancakes, the way Brits mark the final feast before Lent is very tame compared to other cultures (although the traditionalShrove Tuesday 'football match' in Alnwickis fairly lively).

In New Orleans, USA, it is tradition to celebrate 'Mardi Gras' at this time of year.

The French term 'Mardi Gras' translates as 'Fat Tuesday', but it is in name where the Pancake Day similarities largely end. Mardi Gras technically starts on January 6, as it represents the period between the end of Christmas (Epiphany) and the Ash Wednesday, when Lent starts.

During Mardi Gras' final few days, Louisiana comes alive, with parades and partying throughout the day and night.

In South America, Carnival is celebrated around the same time as Shrove Tuesday, with huge parties across the continent.

Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, hosts the most famous Carnival celebrations, with partying, parades and samba school demonstrations. In Brazil, Carnival runs between the Friday before Shrove Tuesday and noon on Ash Wednesday, and is a state holiday.

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Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday is the final day of Carnival, and the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. It's been celebrated in Louisiana since the late 17th century when it was under French colonial rule
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Title Annotation:What's On
Publication:The Chronicle (Newscastle upon Tyne, England)
Date:Mar 5, 2019
Words:653
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