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What is Shrove Tuesday?

Get your whisks and pans at the ready because it’s Shrove Tuesday, commonly known as Pancake Day. Shrove Tuesday marks the last day before Lent which is when Christians give up something they love to eat for 40 days.

Pancakes are traditionally eaten in the UK to use up ingredients like fat, butter and eggs, which also are not eaten during Lent.

The term ‘Shroving’ comes from a custom in which children sang or recited poetry in exchange for food or money. Other customs and superstitions include the belief that the first three pancakes cooked were sacred. Each would be marked with a cross, then sprinkled with salt to ward off evil spirits.

In Ireland, girls were given an afternoon off to make their batter and the eldest, unmarried girl would toss the first pancake. A successful pancake "toss" meant that she would be married within the year.

In Scotland, special oatcakes called Bannocks were made using oatmeal, eggs and salt and cooked on a griddle. A charm would be added to the dough and if an unmarried person found it, people took it as as a sign they be married within the year.

Wales also had their own customs where people would pass from door to door begging for flour, lard or butter. In some parts of Wales children would kick tin cans up and down the streets, believed to commemorate the putting away the pots and pans for Lent.

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