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Pancake Day around the world!

01 February, 2012 15:57  EasyExpat EasyExpat

homemade pancakes pile on plate © DLeonis - Fotolia.comPancake Day! Yes, it is coming. Of course you can make pancakes other days of the year, but if there is one day to choose this year, then you should pick up the 21st February 2012 (also the 2nd February when French, Belgian and Swiss celebrate La Chandeleur - Presentation of Christ in the Temple, but also Pagan feast of light).

Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras in French), the real name of Pancake Day, is the last day before Lent and is also known as Shrove Tuesday (day of penitence and to confess sins). For Christians, Lent is the period from Ash Wednesday (according to the gospels, this is the beginning of the 40 days that Jesus and a few companions are going to spend in the desert, fasting, but also the preparation of commemoration of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus) to Easter (resurrection  of Jesus). The tradition is that people used the remaining eggs, milk and other fat that they could not eat during the fasting period.

Pancakes and other food

French eat the thin pancakes (recipe below). They are followed in the tradition by Belgian, and Swiss, but also English and other European countries.

Préparatifs pour pâtisserie © Frog 974 - Fotolia.comPancake Ingredients

250g plain flour
pinch of salt
3 eggs
50cl milk
3 small spoons of Rhum or orange blossom water

Pancake Making Method

- Whisk the eggs.
- In another large mixing bowl, mix the flour with the salt, and make a well in the middle of the flour. Add the eggs and whisk together.
- Add the milk gradually and whisk until everything is mixed well.
- Add the Rhum or orange blossom water.
- Add a little bit of water to make the pancakes lighter.
- leave it to rest for 15 minutes.

Warm a shallow non-stick frying pan or pancake griddle pan over a medium heat. Use a bit of oil or butter in it (smear it around the pan with some kitchen towel for example). Pour a ladle-full of the batter mixture to the pan and tip the pan making sure the batter coats the base evenly. Cook the first side of the pancake for a minute or so and then flip it over (either using a palette knife, or by tossing the pancake) to cook the other.

However, pancakes are not the traditional meal for other populations or parts of the world on that day. In some places, pancakes are replaced by some sort of doughnuts. In Lithuania (the day is called Užgavenes) they eat spurgos. Portuguese Americans and on the island of Madeira, they eat Malasadas.

German Americans eat the Fastnacht (or Fosnacht), which is made from fried potato dough and served with dark corn syrup. In Iceland (the day is called Sprengidagur), Estonia, and Finland they eat salted meat and peas. In Poland, they also eat a Polish version of doughnuts, the paczki, but on the Thursday (called Tlusty Czwartek) following the first day of Lent.


In London there is a traditional race, called The Great Pancake Race, on Tower Hill Terrace. The tradition of pancake racing started 500 years ago! The race starts in front of the church of All Hallows by the Tower. The runners will have to carry a frying pan and race to the finishing line while tossing the pancakes as they go.

Danseuse de carnaval brésilien, Brazil. © Jerome Dancette - FotoliaSome countries call it the Tuesday of Carnival. There are big Mardi Gras celebrations in New Orleans (US), Venice (Italy), Barranquilla (Colombia), Port of Spain (Trinidad and Tobago), Quebec City (Canada), Mazatlán (Sinaloa in Mexico) and of course Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)'s carnival (which we talked about last year).


Pancakes are easy to make and delicious. Salted, with sugar, lemon, chocolate, jam, fruits, ice cream... you have so many differnet ways to make them. What about you ? How do expats celebrate Pancake Day? Is there any Carnival organised? Do you dress up and are there parades?



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Dutch Pancakes [Reply]

I've never heard of Pancake Day ;) but in my native Holland pancakes are big, literally and figuratively. We have entire restaurants devoted to the pancake (pannekoekenrestauranten).

We like them very big, thin and flat, sweet or savory. They can be made with bacon or cheese, or filled with a sweet filling. Once they're on your plate, you roll them up into a tube and cut them into slices to eat.

They're eaten as a lunch dish or dessert, but not usually for breakfast.

Now I'm hungry for pancakes! Fortunately they are easy to make so I have always been able to make them wherever I lived (right now I'm in Moldova).

  Miss Footloose | Life in the Expat Lane     03 Feb 2012, 08:30

Maslenitsa [Reply]

Mardi Gras, Carnival, Carnaval, Karneval . . . that’s Maslenitsa by any other name. And if you haven’t heard of it, no one would blame you—it wasn’t celebrated to much extent for 85 years in Russia. However, Maslenitsa is back in full force. Since 2002 it’s been officially organized in the city and is again becoming a mainstay of Moscow's holiday calendar.

The Maslenitsa Pancake
Blini are Russian pancakes, and they are essential to the celebration of Maslenitsa. Said to symbolize the sun—being warm, round, and golden—they are an appropriate warning to the lingering cold weather. Blini are given to friends and family all through the week and are topped with caviar, mushrooms, jam, sour cream, and of course, lots of butter.

  Mouse     07 Feb 2012, 11:22