The UK has tons of quirky traditions. One of those is pancake racing. This tradition stems from Shrove Tuesday, or, as many like to call it, Pancake Day. The day falls on the last Tuesday of February this year and it is a Christian tradition before the start of Lent. Lent is the period between Shrove Tuesday and Easter Sunday, when Christians traditionally fast (or nowadays give up a specific food, for example chocolate). On Shrove Tuesday, people across the UK make and eat pancakes in order to use up the food that they have in their houses before the start of Lent.
Pancakes in the UK are large and thin and can be topped with either savoury or sweet ingredients, although many people skip straight to sweet toppings such as Nutella or lemon juice and sugar. People make pancakes in their homes but you might also find that some schools or businesses hold special Pancake Day events – one of which is pancake racing.
In a typical pancake race, contestants have to run holding a frying pan with a pancake in it. As contestants run, they have to toss the pancake in the air so that it flips and lands back in the pan on the other side. The winner is the first to reach the finish line, although they should also be careful to make sure that the pancake is complete and that it hasn’t broken along the way.
One of the most famous pancake races is the Rehab Parliamentary Pancake Race. This takes place on the morning of Shrove Tuesday in London, outside the Houses of Parliament. The race is a competition between two teams – one team of Members of Parliament (MPs), and one team of journalists – most of whom take part in the race wearing their work suits! The race is shown on the news and is covered on TV all around the world. And as well as a bit of fun, the race is also held for a good cause. It raises awareness for the charity Rehab, which works with people with disabilities and others who suffer from social exclusion in the UK.
Another important aspect of the race is the official starter – the person chosen to announce the start of the race. This is seen as a prestigious role and is usually given to a British news presenter. But whoever is chosen usually has a hard time trying to control the race – the MPs are known for cheating every year!