Pancake Day, also called Shrove Tuesday, Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras (which is French for “Fat Tuesday”), is the last day of feasting before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. The name comes from the tradition of eating pancakes on this day, to use up any remaining rich foods before Lent. (According to the U.K. newspaper “The Sun” – in the U.K. at least, fatty flour, eggs and butter – ingredients of pancakes, used to be banned during Lent and so had to get consumed or else wasted.)
The date can vary each year from as early as February 3rd to as late as March 9th, the moveable festival of course determined by the date of Easter, which changes each year. According to the Bible, Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection occurred around the time of the Jewish Passover, which was celebrated on the first full moon following the vernal equinox. In 325 C.E. the Council of Nicaea established that Easter would be held on the first Sunday after the first full moon occurring on or after the vernal equinox.
[The vernal equinox in the Northern Hemisphere marks the date when the Northern Hemisphere starts to tilt toward the sun, which means longer, sunnier days. In the Northern Hemisphere, the March equinox is called the vernal equinox, because it signals the beginning of spring (vernal means fresh or new like the spring). Of course in the Southern Hemisphere this time represents the autumnal equinox. Nevertheless, even though autumn is in full swing and winter is coming, Christians in the Southern Hemisphere celebrate Easter at the same time for a variety of reasons: (1) in some places because that is the legacy given to them by their colonial forbears; or (2) they adhere to religious teachings that emphasize it is not a matter of nature’s timing anymore so much as a matter of a gift of God; or (3) the imagery of the Northern Hemisphere tends to inundate and get adopted by the Southern Hemisphere, aided and abetted by globalization of products and marketing.]
Note: The pancake restaurant chain IHOP also sponsors a yearly National Pancake Day on different dates in February each year, and on which they provide free pancakes to patrons. National Pancake Day (IHOP) 2018 is on Sunday, March 4, 2018.
I happen to be crazy about pancakes (read: excuse to have lots of butter and syrup), and so was ecstatic to find this recipe on the King Arthur Flour website for an easier way to indulge. You just bake the pancakes in the oven instead of standing over a griddle. Toss everything in a bowl, blend it up well and pour it into a greased 9″ x 13″ x 2″ pan, or for thicker cakes a 7″ X 11″ baking dish. You can, of course, use your favorite mix (my favorite is Baker Mills Kodiak Cakes) or any scratch recipe, such as this one (labeled “quick and easy”) for blueberry pancakes from the always reliable source King Arthur Flour. Bake at 350°F for 22 to 25 minutes, or until golden brown on top and a cake tester tests clean in the center. What a great idea!
Happy National Pancake Day!!