The Best Places To Visit On Pancake Day That Aren’t Named New Orleans

The things one can learn from online travel communities never cease to amaze me.

For example, until today I had not heard of Pancake Day – also known as Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday. This year Pancake Day falls on February 17th and DaisyEngland over on the TripAdvisor forums is curious to know what others prefer to eat on their pancakes on this glorious day.

Oddly, in my opinion, lemon and sugar seem to rule the day. Must be a UK thing.

Regardless, the idea of Pancake Day is that immediately proceeding lent all of the Christians fill up on fattening food and, according to Wikipedia:

Pancakes are associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season

Now belomiser, who lives in San Francisco, posts that Pancake Day in the US actually falls on March 3rd this year, which got me to wondering how this could possibly be. As it turns out, there are two Pancake Days – there is the Christian celebration and then there is also the IHOP National Pancake Day, which does indeed fall on March 3rd.

Smack dab in the middle of lent.

Pancake Day races are also part of the Christian celebration. The tradition evidently was started in Olney, England and has even been picked up in at least some parts of the US. Again according to Wikipedia:

Tradition records that in 1445 on Shrove Tuesday, the “Shriving Bell” rang out to signal the start of the Shriving church service. On hearing the bell a local housewife, who had been busy cooking pancakes in anticipation of the beginning of Lent, ran to the church, frying pan still in hand, and dressed in her kitchen apron and headscarf.


The women of Olney recreate this race every Shrove Tuesday … In modern times, Olney competes with the town of Liberal, Kansas in the United States for the fastest time in either town to win the “International Pancake Race”.

And finally, thanks to this thread I learned of a traditional Pancake Day game. A game that, in one small town at least, has been played every year for 800+ years. Known simply as the Shrove Tuesday ball game in Atherstone, England, based on the footage below I’m a little surprised it isn’t up there with the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona as an adventure tourist must-do event.

Read the thread in its entirety: Pancake Day

Olney Pancake Race 2009” by Robin Myerscough. CC BY 2.0.

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