Pancake Day 2016: Five things you probably didn't know about Shrove Tuesday

Icelandic families traditionally eat salted lamb - or horse - and split pea soup.

Click to follow
The Independent Online

For most people in the UK, Shrove Tuesday means cracking opens eggs, flipping and eating lots of pancakes.

It is significant in the Christian calendar as it marks the last day before Lent - a 45-day period intended for repentance and fasting.

Across the world, people celebrate the onset of the traditional temporary embargo on having fun and eating rich food in a range ways - from eating pea soup to dancing and banging on samba drums to playing football.

1. What does 'Shrove' mean?

It originates from the Old English word "shrive" which is means "absolve". 

While many followers of Christian denominations look to spend the day studying the wrongs they need to repent - it has long been seen as a day to enjoy foods and pursuits before Lent fast.

2. How do people in Iceland celebrate Shrove Tuesday?

Known as Sprengidagur (Bursting Day), Icelandic families traditionally eat salted lamb (or horse) and split pea soup.

3. What does Mardi Gras mean?

Mardi Gras is French for 'fat Tuesday', which also traditionally marks the last day of eating richer and fattier foods before a period of restraint.

Known in Latin America as Carnival, Mardi Gras has became synonymous with colourful costumes, parades and partying.

MPs batter journalists in race

4. What is the link between football and Pancake day?

Since the 12th century, many towns and villages across the UK would play chaotic and relatively lawless games of football on public roads.

While many of these 'mob football' games have  since disappeared - villages such as Atherstone in Wawrickshire continue to play the game on public highways every Shrove Tuesday. 

Around 2,000 people weare expected to take part in this year's match, where the rules are simple  - the ball cannot be taken out of the town and you cannot kill anyone.

5. What other food products are linked to Shrove Tuesday?

In many Baltic states, the eating of pea soup is a Shrove Tuesday tradition. 

In Poland, the eating of a Polish doughnut called a Pączki is very popular.

An important day in some Polish communities in the US, there are even competitions to see who can eat the most of these sweet-filled pastries.