WHAT IS THE PANCAKE DAY RACE?
The friendly little competition between Liberal, Kansas, and Olney, England, with women running down the streets of each town flipping pancakes, has been going on for more than 60 years now. It is still the only race of its kind on the planet.
HOW DID THE PANCAKE DAY RACE GET ITS START?
In Olney, England, the Pancake Race tradition dates back more than 500 years to 1445. A woman engrossed in using up cooking fats (forbidden during Lent) was making pancakes. Hearing the church bells ring calling everyone to the shriving service, she grabbed her head scarf (required in church) and ran to the church, skillet and pancake in hand and still apron-clad. In following years, neighbors got into the act and it became a race to see who could reach the church first and collect a "Kiss of Peace" from the verger (bell-ringer.)
WHEN IS PANCAKE DAY?
On Shrove Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, at 11:55 a.m., the race goes on again, with the overall score standing at 36 wins for Liberal and 28 for Olney. In 1980 the score didn't count, because a media truck blocked the finish line in Olney.
WHY DOES THE DATE CHANGE FOR PANCAKE DAY?
Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day — all four terms refer to the same day-- the day before the beginning of Lent.
Lent is the 40-day period of fasting and prayer before Easter Sunday. Since the date of Easter changes each year, so does the date for Shrove Tuesday.
HOW DID PANCAKE DAY GET STARTED IN THE UNITED STATES?
It all started in 1950 from a magazine picture of the Olney women racing each other to the church. Liberal Jaycee President R.J. Leete contacted the Rev. Ronald Collins, Vicar of St. Peter and St. Paul's church in Olney, challenging their women to race against women of Liberal. Like in Olney, the traditional prize of the race is the "Kiss of Peace" from the verger (bellringer).
International Pancake Day in Liberal has expanded into a four-day event, beginning this year on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015, with pancake eating and flipping contests, a cooking contest, and a parade. Other events include a talent show, the races, and a shriving service.
WHAT IS A "SHROVE"?
It's not a thing, but a verb. The verb shrive (shrove, shriven) comes from the Old English verb scrfan, “to decree, decree after judgment, impose a penance upon (the penitent), hear the confession of," according to the American Heritage Dictionary.
Shrove Tuesday is the day to reflect, to seek penance and get ready for Lent, and so we have the shriving service, the religious component of the holiday.
WHAT IS PANCAKE DAY?
Many people are familiar with Mardi gras celebrations on the day before Lent. But in Liberal, Kansas, the day before Lent means just one thing – it’s Pancake Day.