Have we all forgotten about pancake Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday as it is sometimes known? This year it has fallen very early because of the early Easter, but even so this is the first year that none of my fares seemed to know about it. None of the shoppers I picked up from the local supermarkets had bought pancake mix or the traditional lemon juice to squeeze over them.
Now I learn that health and safety rules are beginning to put an end to the traditional sport of pancake racing.
A Cathedral pancake race that is part of a 600-year-old tradition has been stopped because of health and safety rules. The bell at Ripon Cathedral, which has rung at to mark Shrove Tuesday since the 15th century, has signalled the start of the city’s pancake race for many years.
However, the event, in which children, traders, soldiers and even clergy compete, has been abandoned because of the amount of work needed to carry out risk assessments.
In past years, the event, part of a long tradition of pancake races in Ripon, was likened to a village sports day, a last chance to have fun before the solemn season of Lent.
The race has been growing in popularity and even involved members of 38 Regt Royal Engineers, based in Ripon, who cook pancakes from a field kitchen outside the west front of the cathedral.
“We had hoped to make the pancake race as much of a tradition as the pancake bell and it’s a travesty that it has been killed off."
It’s sad isn’t it, and now surveys tell us that two thirds of people in the country no longer mark the Christian tradition of making pancakes.
Pancakes have featured in cookbooks since 1439. The custom of flipping or tossing them is believed to have started in the 17th century. They are made from rich ingredients that include eggs and milk, which were used up in households before the 40 days of Lent during which only plain food should be eaten. I don’t know, folk will be telling me that they don’t even know that it’s Ash Wednesday on the day after Shrove Tuesday next eh!