Today is the most glorious Tuesday of all.

We're given free rein to piles our plates high with thin crepes or thick pancakes, slathering them with a selection of sweet and savoury spreads and toppings. It's a truly joyous occasion. But have you ever stopped, mid-chew, to wonder why we eat pancakes every Spring?

Let us bring you up to speed on the religious tradition of eating pancakes and give you the lowdown on lent.

When is pancake day?
Pancake Tuesday, more formally known as Shrove Tuesday, is always followed by Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent whereby Christians traditionally fast for 40 days.

This year, the food-filled day falls on Tuesday, 1 March.

What is Shrove Tuesday?
Easter is one of the oldest festivals of the Christian Church and celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the tomb on the third day after his crucifixion.

However, before any celebrations can begin, there must be a period of fasting which is where Shrove Tuesday comes into play. The word shrove comes from shrive, meaning to present oneself for confession, penance, and absolution.

Shrove Tuesday marks the last day before Lent - a period of 40 days whereby Christians traditionally fast or give up certain foods. The 40 days represent the time that Jesus spent fasting in the desert where he resisted the temptation of Satan.

On the first day of Lent, also known as Ash Wednesday, Christians would traditionally attend mass to have a small cross of ashes drawn on their forehead by the priest. The cross is in reference to the Biblical passage "For dust you are and to dust you shall return" (Genesis 3:19).

Why pancakes?
In the past, families would traditionally prepare to fast by using up all the ingredients in their kitchen. These would usually consist of eggs, milk, and flour - everything you need to make a good pancake!

How to make the perfect pancake
We have listed three decadently delicious pancake recipes for you to try out this Pancake Tuesday.

American Style Pancakes by Louise Lennox

American Style Pancakes

Paul Flynn's Perfect Pancakes

Basic Pancakes
Paul's Perfect Pancakes

Donal Skehan's Gluten-free Pancakes, Blueberry, Banana, Honey

Gluten Free Pancakes
Gluten-Free Pancakes

Flipping pancakes
In the 1980s, RTÉ held both a Pancake Flipping Olympics and a Pancake Relay Road Race.

Click here to watch RTÉ Archives footage of Marty Whelan, Tony Fenton, Barry Lang and Ian Dempsey taking part.

Pancake Rally Road Race
Pancake Rally Road Race