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Shrove Tuesday

Shrove Tuesday (sometimes called Pancake Day) is a Christian tradition that celebrates the beginning of Lent.

Kitchen scales and ingredients used to make pancakes

During Lent, Christians give up things they enjoy - often rich, tasty foods such as chocolate - for a period of 40 days. They break their fast on Easter Sunday. This symbolises the 40 days and nights Jesus spent in the desert and the devil tried to make him give in to temptation.

Traditionally, people would give up food such as eggs, butter, sugar, and fats during Lent. Today, changes in eating habits now mean people often give up treat-based food such as chocolate, biscuits and cake.

Shrove Tuesday is the last day for people to enjoy these foods before Lent. In the past, eggs, butter, sugar and fats would have gone stale or rotten over 40 days – so using those ingredients in delicious foods such as pancakes before fasting for Lent makes sense.

Many different countries around the world celebrate Shrove Tuesday; it’s also known as Pancake Day, Mardi Gras, “Fat Tuesday” or Carnival.

Interesting facts about Shrove Tuesday:

  • Reportedly, the pancake race tradition started in 1445 in the town of Olney in Buckinghamshire; a lady who was making pancakes lost track of time, heard the bells signalling the start of church and ran all the way there with her frying pan full of pancakes!
  • The date of Shrove Tuesday changes each year; it is always observed 47 days before Easter and always on a Tuesday.
  • 52 million eggs are used in the UK alone on Shrove Tuesda

Activities for children with vision impairment: family activities

Ready, steady, make!

Making pancakes can be just as much fun as eating them; this should be no different for a child with vision impairment. Follow our recipe and top tips to make your perfect pancake!

Before you begin, prepare your workspace: ensure that the lighting is adequate and that all your ingredients are within easy reach. It might be helpful to put your ingredients on a tray, to prevent those pesky eggs from rolling away and cracking.

Some smaller chefs and cooks may need to begin preparations at the table, if they cannot yet reach the kitchen counter; adult supervision might be needed when using the cooker and hob.

What you will need:

  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml semi skimmed milk
  • Pinch of salt

How to make pancakes:

  1. Put all ingredients into a bowl or large jug, then whisk to a smooth batter.
  2. Set a frying pan over a medium heat and carefully wipe it with some greased kitchen paper.
  3. When hot, cook your pancakes for a minute on each side until golden, keeping them warm in a low oven on low heat until you have finished cooking them.
  4. Add your toppings: why not try lemon juice, sugar, chocolate spread, fruit, marshmallows or golden syrup? Some people also enjoy savoury toppings…

Whether you pre-measure your ingredients, or encourage your children to use gadgets like talking scales, liquid level indicators or large-print jugs, there are many hints and tips online on building your child's confidence in and out of the kitchen!

Page-turning books about pancakes

Here are some stories you could read together as a family. Once you have finished reading, why not try writing a story about making - and eating – pancakes?

Here is a poem called ‘Mix a Pancake’ by Christina Rossetti.

Mix a pancake,

Stir a pancake,

Pop it in the pan;

Fry the pancake,

Toss the pancake—

Catch it if you can.

Why not try and write a second verse? You could write about different fun things to do with the pancake (including eating it, of course!)

Make your own Mardi Gras mask

In some countries around the world, Shrove Tuesday is also celebrated with vibrant street parties. This is known as Mardi Gras, which translates as ‘Fat Tuesday’ in English.

Get into the festive swing by creating your very own Mardi Gras Mask, then hold a family parade and listen to some festival music!

How to make a Mardi Gras mask

Using half of a paper plate, cut two holes for your eyes and then decorate any way you want: use vibrant paint, then add texture with glue, oatmeal or sand. Use tactile stickers, scented markers, feathers, ribbons or any other loose parts you can find.

Once you have made a decadent Mardi Gras Mask, attach a stick to the bottom to hold on to, or use elastic or string to make the mask secure, and wear it to your own Mardi Gras-themed party.!

Websites about Pancake Day and Shrove Tuesday for children

There are many websites which explore Shrove Tuesday and Lent in a child-friendly way. Here are some links to get you started: