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Overseas and Off-Campus Programs Blog

You’ve Heard of Waffle Wednesday, Now Get Ready for... Pancake Tuesday

  • Young choristers flipping pancakes on Pancake Tuesday
    Young choristers flipping pancakes on Pancake Tuesday

Author Name

Jasmine Bruinooge

Author Program

Ireland: Dublin (Social Sciences)

Program Semester and Year

Spring 2019

Student Major

Psychology and French Studies

As I walked into the office of my service internship organization after coming back from our spring break, I thought it was just another ordinary Tuesday. I opened up Slack, my office’s internal messaging system, and saw that one of my co-workers had posted, “Google searches for ‘pancakes’ are starting to spike at an alarming rate” with a graph accompanying it. Hm, weird. Just another weird Internet thing I guess. I brushed it off. A few hours later, I had a check-in with my supervisor so we went to one of the meeting rooms in the building. Half way through, a guy knocked on the door and interrupted saying that they needed the room in a few minutes to make pancakes and that we were welcome to join. Okay… What’s with the pancakes!? I couldn’t brush it off anymore, so I asked my supervisor about it. It took her a second to realize that this wasn’t a tradition I was used to but she kindly gave me the lowdown.

Pancake Tuesday, a.k.a. Shrove Tuesday, a.k.a. Pancake Day, a.k.a. Mardi Gras, happens the day before Lent, which starts on Ash Wednesday. Apparently, ‘Shrove’ comes from the old middle English word ‘Shriven’ which means to go to confession to apologize for the wrong things you’ve committed. My other co-worker later told me that it’s a way of indulging before you give up something during Lent. Online sources explained that it started as a way of getting rid of eggs and fattening ingredients before fasting during Lent and making pancakes were the easiest way to that back in the day. I’m not Catholic but if it involves pancakes, count me in! So… where are my pancakes?

Sadly, I didn’t end up eating any pancakes but my housemates and I put a little spin on it and decided to make crepes instead. Good enough, right? (shoutout to my friend Kate for setting it up and making the delicious crepes from scratch!)

So anyway, what I want to know is… why does everybody in the US know about St. Patrick’s Day but not the superior Irish March celebration, Pancake Day? Well, now you know.