Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Why Do We Have Pancake Day, Miss?

One of my pupils asked me that last week.

Cue for my five minute lesson on Lent...

Do you know why Christians celebrate at Easter? It’s about Jesus dying and stuff, isn’t it? [that's a positive start, I thought]


Good Friday/Easter is a very important time of the year for Christians – and another part of the story of Jesus is about how he spent 40 days preparing himself for the work he had to do – like teaching and healing and miracles, and of course, the crucifixion.

Christians have traditionally used the 40 days before Easter to understand God better, and prepare themselves to serve Him and stop doing bad stuff and do more good stuff. One way to concentrate more on God is to concentrate less on food – so they used to stop eating ‘fancy’ food, and just live on a simple diet of water and vegetables.


No meat, no cream, no butter. That’s a bit dull Miss! Yes, but if you know you are getting a dull meal, you stop thinking about that, and concentrate more on other things, like how good God is!

Now, in the olden days, nobody had fridges and freezers, so they had to eat up all the fancy foods beforehand or they would go to waste – you couldn’t keep cream or meat for 6 weeks. They called these 40 days ‘Lent’ which means ‘lengthen’, because the days were starting to get longer as Spring came. So just before these 40 days started they ate up all the goodies in a big feast.

What do we call animals that eat meat? Carnivores Exactly – and ‘carne’ is the Latin word for meat [like chilli con carne]

In countries where there were lots of Catholics, who used the Latin language, they said “Goodbye meat” – which is “Carne Vale” – so they call it Carnival Time. And in Venice and Brazil and other places, they will be having carnival celebrations and feasts.

venice carnival

carnival rio

And can you remember what the French word is for Tuesday? Mardi That’s right, so where they speak French, it is called ‘Mardi Gras’ or ‘Fat Tuesday’ – the day they eat up the fats, the butter and cream. There’s always a big Mardi Gras celebration in New Orleans in the USA.

mardi gras

But here in England, we just use up the eggs and butter to make pancakes. Which isn’t quite as lively and colourful, but never mind! Sometimes people have Pancake Races.

pancake race

So that’s why we have Pancakes on Pancake Day – and in the old days, Christians knew that was their last exciting food until Easter Sunday, when they would eat meat and eggs again, and celebrate Jesus resurrection and coming alive again.

Now many children just look forward to Easter Day because of the chocolate eggs.

And that’s what Pancake Day is all about.

easter eggs

I didn’t know ANY of that before, Miss! Well, you do now!!

…and so do you! Will you be eating Pancakes tonight?


  1. Well I never knew Lent meant lengthen!

  2. Pancake Race in Liberal, Kansas today!

  3. I had pancakes after the prayer meeting, pancakes with boys after school. and we're waiting for prince Charming to walk in any minute now and produce his annual soda flour triumphs! I've always loved the greasy Tuesday bit, but the carne vale bit is brand brand new to me!

  4. Well, that explains it! I like your new picture. Cute hair!

  5. I agree! Well done indeed!
    Like your new picture - cute hairstyle. :-)

  6. Very interesting - thank you!


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