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Why do we have pancakes?

Pancakes are a traditional food eaten on Shrove Tuesday in England and many other countries. Shrove Tuesday is the last day before Lent, the six weeks leading up to Easter when Christians traditionally gave up meat and other animal food. Cooking pancakes was a way of using up some of these foods including the animal fat they would have been fried in. Some people like to toss them in the pan to turn them over and in some places people even run a race while holding the pancake in a frying pan. The word "Shrove" comes from the Old English "Shrive" meaning confessing sins, something people would do before the purification period of lent. In some countries Shrove Tuesday has the name Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) and this is also the time for Carnival (from Carne - meat) a time for feasting and festival before lent. Lent begins the next day with Ash Wednesday when Christians all other the world may go to church and be smeared with ashes symbolizing mankind's creation from and eventual return to dust before Jesus' own sacrifice and following resurrection gave a promise of the same to believers. Many people still give up something for lent - especially something they know is not good for them anyway. 
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