Shrove Tuesday is the last day before Lent. Because Lent is a time of fasting it became traditional in the Middle Ages for Christians to induge themselves with food and drink, using up all the perishable foods, before going to church to be “shriven” (to confess their sins and be pardoned) and then begin 40 days of fasting. Many people put all their rich food into pancakes, and so began the tradtion of Pancake Day. Here is a poem about the pancake race held each year in Olney, England.
Run to the church with a frying pan,
Never you lose a minute!
Run to the church with a frying pan
and a yellow pancake in it.
First to carry her pancake there,
though heavy or light she beat it,
Must toss her cake to the Bellringer,
And the bellringer he must eat it.
Then be she a madam or be she a miss
All breathless after rushing,
The bellringer he shall give her a kiss
And never mind her blushing!