Pancake Day 2023: Why do we eat them - and what is Shrove Tuesday?

The annual occasion falls the day before Lent begins

Pancakes made from rich ingredients are traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday before the abstinence period of Lent. Unsplash
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Pancake Day, also known as Shrove Tuesday or Fat Tuesday, is celebrated annually on the day before Ash Wednesday, although the date changes every year.

What is Pancake Day?

Shrove Tuesday occurs the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent — which begins a 40-day period of abstinence that precedes Easter.

In some countries, such as France, Germany and the US, the day is recognised with a celebration called Mardi Gras. Translated as “Fat Tuesday” in French, the festivities often involve carnival activities and extravagant parades.

When is it?

Although it differs every year, it always falls on a Tuesday. This year, it will be on February 21. Next year, it will be on February 13 and in 2025, it will fall on March 4.

Why are pancakes eaten on the day?

As the last chance for a bit of indulgence before the 40 days of Lent, Christians would use up their leftover ingredients such as eggs, butter and milk, by turning them into pancakes to be eaten on the day.

However, over the years, there have been various ways to celebrate Shrove Tuesday and English pancakes aren’t the only type to try. There are also French crepes, Indian dosas and Japanese souffle pancakes to consider.

How to make your own healthy pancakes

If you are on a health kick, a stack of pancakes may not be on-plan. But that doesn't have to mean missing out on Shrove Tuesday. Fitness First's Middle East nutrition manager Banin Shahine has created these three handy recipes to try at home, with a vegan option, too.

Banana pancakes

Serves two

Ingredients

  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tbsp dark chocolate chips

Method

  • In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together until smooth
  • Heat a lightly oiled pancake griddle or normal pan over medium heat
  • Pour or scoop the batter on to the griddle or pan, using about ¼ cup for each pancake
  • Flip the pancakes on the heated pan and ensure both sides are golden brown
  • Serve pancakes hot with some sliced bananas, and honey or dark chocolate syrup

Cinnamon bun pancakes

Serves two

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp oats
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2-3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 medium eggs

Method

  • Mix all the dry ingredients and separately mix the eggs, vegetable oil and maple syrup
  • Pour wet ingredients into the bowl with dry ingredients
  • Mix well until batter is of a sticky consistency
  • Spray the pancake griddle or pan with oil and place it over medium heat
  • Pour ¼ cup of batter for each pancake on to the heated pan
  • Flip them on the pan and ensure both sides are golden brown
  • Top with fresh berries and raw nuts. Serve while hot

Vegan atayef pancakes

Serves two

Ingredients

  • 2 cups wholewheat flour
  • ½ cup semolina
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 tsp orange blossom water

Method

  • In a blender, mix all ingredients together until a sticky batter is formed
  • Rest the batter for two hours at room temperature
  • Heat a non-stick pan on medium heat, without spraying oil or brushing butter on to the pan
  • Scoop out and place the batter on the pan. Flip to ensure both sides are golden brown
  • Sprinkle some vanilla powder and serve with sliced fresh fruit
Updated: June 22, 2023, 12:34 PM