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Carnival/Shrove Tuesday in United Kingdom

Many Christian churches in the United Kingdom observe Shrove Tuesday as the last day before the fast for the Lent period. It is also known as Pancake Tuesday or Pancake Day.

Pancakes, with sugar and lemon
Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Tuesday. There are different types pancakes in the United Kingdom.
Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Tuesday. There are different types pancakes in the United Kingdom.
©iStockphoto.com/Paul Cowan

What do people do?

Shrove Tuesday in the United Kingdom is commonly known as Pancake Tuesday. It is a time for people to eat pancakes or participate in pancake races. Pancakes in the United Kingdom have some variations. For example, Welshcakes or light cakes are eaten in Wales while many pancakes in Gloucester are made with suet.

People who take part in the pancake races carry thin pancakes in frying pans and must race to the finish, flipping pancakes as they go. The winner is the first to the finish line with a pancake that is not burnt. Some people may take time off work to participate in the pancake races.

The Olney Pancake Race is held at Olney in Buckinghamshire on Shrove Tuesday. It is one of the best known pancake races in the United Kingdom. The course for the Olney Pancake Race is about 415 yards long (about 379 meters). Competitors must wear traditional costumes that include a skirt, apron and head covering to run the race. Official Olney and Liberal prizes are then presented at a Shriving service in the parish church after the race is finished.

Public life

Shrove Tuesday is not a bank holiday in the United Kingdom so public life is not affected. However some local areas, such as the town of Olney, may temporarily close sections of streets or roads for pancake races.

Background and Symbols

According to Christian tradition, Lent commemorates the 40 days that Jesus spent in the wilderness so observant Christians marked this event by fasting. Many people used ingredients, such as eggs and milk, to prepare pancakes on Shrove Tuesday prior to the fasting period. Pancake races have been held in England for more than 500 years. Some sources suggest that they may have started in 1445.

One old English custom associated with Pancake Day was the annual pancake grease at London’s Westminster where schoolboys would fight for pancakes to gain monetary awards. Another tradition was Mischief Night, where some people would go into houses in disguise and ask for pancakes. A general article about Shrove Tuesday worldwide covers more information about its background and symbols.

About Carnival/Shrove Tuesday in other countries

Read more about Carnival/Shrove Tuesday.

Carnival/Shrove Tuesday Observances

WeekdayDateYearNameHoliday typeWhere it is observed
TueFeb 271990Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 121991Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueMar 31992Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 231993Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 151994Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 281995Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 201996Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 111997Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 241998Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 161999Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueMar 72000Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 272001Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 122002Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueMar 42003Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 242004Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 82005Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 282006Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 202007Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 52008Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 242009Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 162010Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueMar 82011Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 212012Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 122013Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueMar 42014Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 172015Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 92016Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 282017Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 132018Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueMar 52019Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 
TueFeb 252020Carnival/Shrove TuesdayChristian 

Quick Facts

Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Tuesday in the United Kingdom.

Carnival/Shrove Tuesday 2015

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Carnival/Shrove Tuesday 2016

Tuesday, February 9, 2016



Carnival/Shrove Tuesday
List of dates for other years

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Other holidays in February 2015 in United Kingdom

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