Indiana Daily Student

Pancake Day: the British Mardi Gras

In New Orleans, Mardi Gras festivities mark the last day before the official start of Lent. In Spain, the week-long Carnival festival ushers in the season. It’s all about Fat Tuesday — the day where it’s OK to indulge in your favorite things, as you’re about to give up excesses for the next 40 days.

In the United Kingdom, “Shrove Tuesday”  is more affectionately known as Pancake Day, following a longstanding Catholic tradition of using up indulgent ingredients in the kitchen, such as fat, butter and eggs, by cooking a food that contains all three — pancakes.

But, like most holidays, Pancake Day is not only for the religious. Grocery stores throughout the United Kingdom stock up on ready-made pancake mixes and toppings in preparation for the rush that comes with the chance to enjoy the annual treat.

“We don’t normally eat pancakes, but almost everyone does on Pancake Day. It’s the one time a year that I eat them, mainly for the tradition and the fun of it all,” said Sarah Packwood, a British student who celebrated Pancake Day with her flatmates this year.

The British pancake is somewhat different from the American pancake. Although made of similar ingredients, it is thinner and much more like a French crêpe.

Traditionally, it is topped with lemon juice and sugar, although many people get creative with their toppings, using berries, Nutella, jams or maple syrup. The worse it is for you the better — it’s all a part of the spirit of the celebration in preparation for the Lenten season.

While describing the celebration in her flat this year, Packwood noted the variety of toppings they used on their pancakes. “We bought loads of toppings — strawberry sauce, nutella, lemon juice and sugar. One of my housemates even made a blueberry and peach sauce to put on the pancakes. It was amazing.”

In some villages and towns across the United Kingdom, Pancake Day is even more than a small gathering at home. The whole community takes part in an annual tradition of pancake racing, where participants flip pancakes in a pan while running through the streets.

Although I didn’t witness such racing in Canterbury this year, I was fortunate enough to experience Pancake Day with a group of British students, and I have to say that Shrove Tuesday never tasted so sweet.

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