Pancake Day is one of the few food holidays that has its roots firmly planted in tradition and was not simply named on a whim to celebrate the tasty breakfast food. Pancake Day is better known as Fat Tuesday, or Shrove Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday is the day before Lent, the period of fasting and prayer that preceeds Easter in many Christian traditions. The tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday began as a way to use up ingredients including butter, milk and eggs that were not supposed to be eaten and would go bad during the period of Lent. Pancakes, particularly thin and buttery crepes, were a great way to use up these ingredients in one easy and indulgent dish. The tradition of eating pancakes is accessible to many regardless of religion, and the idea of a Pancake Day gets a little more popular every year.
These days many people opt to celebrate Pancake Day by eating pancakes for breakfast, lunch or dinner and the celebrations are decidedly non-religious for most. For instance, in the towns of Liberal, Kansas and Olney, England hold a pancake-flipping race, where women run down the streets of each town flipping pancakes, in a tradition that actually dates back hundreds of years. I personally just use Pancake Day as an excuse to eat pancakes for dinner and to try out a few new recipes, like the Passion Fruit Coconut Pancakes pictured above or a batch of Bacon Pancakes! Savory crepes are even a nice way to celebrate Pancake Day. You can eat pancakes any day of the year, of course, but having a holiday spring up around them just makes things seem a little more festive!