One of the strangest types of race takes place on the London streets this February. It marks the celebration of one of the oldest festivals in the country – Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Day. Shrove Tuesday is always held exactly 47 days before Easter. The actual date changes every year.
It all began over one thousand years ago when Christians used to go to confession to mark the period of Lent, the weeks of fasting before Easter. Anglo-Saxons were ‘shriven’ or forgiven their sins hence the name Shrove Tuesday. It was a day when all many types of food such eggs had to be given up until Easter arrived. As a result the custom developed of using up foods such as eggs and fats on the day before Lent began – and these were the perfect ingredients for pancakes.
As time went on, pancake races were held in the streets. Within London, two main races are held in very different locations. The aim is always to win the race – but to do so, you have to run a set course while tossing a pancake from a frying pan. These are not small pancakes either – they are large ones designed to fit in the bottom of the frying pan. To be a part of this exciting event book your stay at Edward Hotel Paddington.
The first set of races is held close to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster Tower Gardens. It involves members of the House of Lords, House of Commons and members of the Press (journalists who work in the Houses of Parliament). They create teams who compete to win each race.
The second batch of races is held in East London and anyone can take part. You just make a donation on the day to the chosen charity. Held at the Old Truman Brewery in Spitalfields, it is a lot of fun. Many of the teams involved dress up in fancy dress. They have a hard course to run as it involves cobbled streets and keeping your balance while tossing pancakes is not easy!
For those who prefer eating pancakes to tossing them in the air, London has some fantastic venues where pancakes can be enjoyed all year round. Among the best places to try are My Old Dutch with branches in Holborn, Kensington and Chelsea, Crème de la Crepe in Covent Garden and the Wolseley in Piccadilly. Most cafes and restaurants sell a selection of sweet or savoury pancakes as these are one of the most popular types of dessert or simply great for a simple, yet filling snack. These places are not too far away from budget hotels near Paddington Station UK.