So did everyone have pancakes on Pancake Day?
Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday (the "formal" name) is the day before Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent. If you are a Catholic like me, then you will know that Lent is the build-up to Easter; a time when we should fast, repent, do good works and get ready for Holy Week. In the old days, Christians were not permitted to eat rich food, meat or other animal products (except fish) during the 40 days of Lent. So the day before Lent, all the perishable "rich" ingredients such as flour, eggs, butter etc had to be used up....hence pancake day. In some countries, it is known as Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday) and people party, party, party before Lent. I think nowadays, most people celebrate Pancake Day without observing Lent, so it is just a secular tradition.
We had pancakes (they were more like crepes) with lemon and sugar. Simple and delicious. It's quite pathetic that I have to look up a recipe for pancakes, but I only make them once a year. Maybe this year I'll make them twice a year. :)
Ash Wednesday is a Holy Day of Obligation for Catholics (No, it's not. We are only encouraged to go to mass. It's not compulsory. Thanks, Justin - edited 21/2/07) which means we should go to mass and fast. We shouldn't eat any meat, and we are encouraged to fast if possible. I always find Ash Wednesday mass meaningful as we are reminded that - "you are dust, and to dust you shall return". The priest places a blob of ash on your forehead and says something like - repent and believe the Gospel. It's a day to remember that our bodies are only temporary.