Shrove Tuesday will be celebrated on 5 March, in advance of Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. It is a day of penitence, to clean the soul and a last chance to celebrate and feast before the start of Lent.

Historically, Christians would undergo the ritual of shriving, where they confessed their sins and would receive forgiveness for them. Through receiving forgiveness for sins, people are released from the guilt of having caused them. It is believed that traditionally a ‘shriving bell’ was rung to call people to confession; today, in some places, it is still rung, but it is called the ‘pancake bell’. This name arose from the story of a woman of Olney, Buckinghamshire, who in 1445 heard the shriving bell whilst making pancakes and ran to the church, still in her apron and clutching her frying pan.

Christians often celebrate and indulge in food on Shrove Tuesday, because Lent is a time of abstinence with many Christians choosing to give up certain foods. In the past, in order that foods were not wasted, on Shrove Tuesday families would use up all the foods that would expire during the forty days of Lent. Pancakes became widely associated with Shrove Tuesday because they were a dish that could use up perishable items like eggs, milk and fat.