Pancakes are eaten throughout the year, of course, but for Christians, the day known as Pancake Day heralds the start of Lent, the season of prayer, reflection, and self-denial leading up to the joyous celebration of Easter. In some places, special pancake breakfasts are held, as well as pancake races, which involve people tossing pancakes as they run.
Gorging on pancakes on this day is a last indulgence before the self-denial aspect of Lent requires people to temporarily give up certain foods or activities they enjoy. For children, some of the things to be forgone can include computer time, desserts, watching TV, or playing with a favourite toy or game. (I once tried to give up fighting with my most annoying brother, but it didn’t last long.) Alternatively, they can perform acts of service for family members or people in the community during Lent.
Pancake Day is also known as Shrove Tuesday, ‘shrove’ being the past tense of shrive, the term for the hearing of confessions and the granting of absolution.