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
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.
On Shrove Tuesday, Feb. 12, 2013, at 11:55 a.m.,
the race goes on again, with the overall score standing at 37
wins for Liberal and 26 for Olney. In 1980 the score didn't count,
because a media truck blocked the finish line in Olney.
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.
In Olney, 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.) The kiss is still the traditional
prize in both races.
Racers must still wear a head scarf and apron and
the runner must flip her pancake at the starting signal, and again
after crossing the finish line, to prove she still has her pancake.
Winning scores have traded back and forth between
the two towns. The record time was set in 2001 when three-time
race winner Lisa Spillman of Liberal ran the 415-yard S-shaped
course in 58.1 seconds.
International Pancake Day in Liberal has expanded
into a four-day event, beginning this year on Saturday, Feb. 09,
2013, with pancake eating and flipping contests, a cooking contest,
and a parade. Other events include a talent show, the races, and a shriving service.
Why does the date for Pancake Day change
Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day — all
four terms refer to the same day-- the day before the beginning
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.
The "Shrove" in Shrove Tuesday confuses
some folks, though. What exactly 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.
A complete schedule of events, as well as information and prices on Pancake Day t-shirts and other merchandise, is available on the Pancake Day website: www.pancakeday.net.
For information on entering an event, call 620-624-6423, or stop by the Tourist Information Center at 1 Yellow Brick Road.