Pancake Tuesday is almost upon us and we can't wait to gorge ourselves on the tasty treat. Chocolate spread, lemon and sugar, and butter and jam will be slathered with abandon... but have you ever wondered why we eat them 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?
This year, Pancake Tuesday falls on Tuesday, 13th February. Also known as Shrove Tuesday, the tradition always falls forty-seven days before Easter.

The day is always followed by Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent whereby Christians traditionally fast for forty days.

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 forty days whereby Christians traditionally fast or give up certain foods. The forty 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!

3 Tasty Pancake Recipes

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

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

Pancake Rally Road Race
Pancake Rally Road Race

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