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Flipping Heck, It's Pancake Day!
Millions celebrate Shrove Tuesday with sweet treat
Eric Shackle (shack)     Print Article 
Published 2007-02-20 13:31 (KST)   
It's Pancake Day! If you like your sweet treats today is the day for you.

This tasty festival owes it origins to the Christian calendar and always falls on the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the beginning of Lent. It's traditional name is Shrove Tuesday.

Devout churchgoers are expected to give up rich foods during Lent, the 40 day period before Easter. As one last celebration before this time of culinary austerity begins, Christians in countries like Australia and Britain use up all their eggs and butter to make pancakes.

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Now, as with Christmas, millions overlook the religious aspect, and celebrate Pancake Day simply as a pagan feast.

Elsewhere in the world Shrove Tuesday is also celebrated as a last day of excess before Lent. In Italian it's called Martedi Grasso, which means "Fat Tuesday." It is the final day of the carnival.

Across Italy today people are celebrating the last day of carnival and in many regions are also eating a sweet similar to pancakes.

Mardi Gras is the French for "Fat Tuesday." The U.S. city of New Orleans is particularly well known for its Mardi Gras celebrations.

The Associated Press reports that this is the first year the city has seen Mardi Gras resume anything like its pre-Hurricane Katrina former glory.

In southern England today the female villagers of Olney in the county of Buckinghamshire will be running a pancake race.

The participants are women over the age of 18 who have resided in Olney for three months or more. They all wear the "traditional" costume of the housewife: a skirt, apron and headcovering.

Each woman holds a frying pan containing a pancake, and as she runs she must toss the festive food in the air.

Legend has it that the race first began in 1445 when a housewife was so late for church that she ran there with a frying pan in her hand.

For the 58th year the Olney villagers will be competing against runners across the Atlantic in a town named Liberal in Kansas. The Pancake Day race was introduced to Liberal after an American G.I. met a soldier from Olney during the Second World War.

According to the official Web site:

"The event was brought to Liberal, and in 1950 the international challenge was accepted by Reverend Ronald Collins,Vicar of Olney.

"In the running of the International Pancake Day Race, times of the winners in both Olney and Liberal are compared by trans-Atlantic telephone, and an international winner is declared.

"Over the years a three-day celebration has grown up around the event in Liberal. A concert, amateur talent show, pancake eating contest, parade, community pancake breakfast, kids' races...and other special events provide for a full schedule during the celebration."

Here in Australia on Shrove Tuesday thousands of individuals, school, community, church and business groups cook and sell pancakes to raise funds for UnitingCare's welfare work.

It all adds up to the fact that millions (yes, millions) of pancakes will be eaten around the world on Feb. 20.
Find out how to make pancakes here.
©2007 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Eric Shackle

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