This Is Why People Eat Pancakes on Fat Tuesday

And everything else in sight.

Today, Tuesday, February 25th, is known as Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras Day to Christians all across the globe (the exact date changes year to year). It's the last hurrah—a chance to indulge—before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday, when devout Christians fast and abstain from meat. In addition to parties and parades on Bourbon Street in New Orleans, there's another food tradition that some partake in: Eating pancakes.

buttermilk pancakes
Armando Rafael

According to CNN, the tradition dates back to 600 A.D., when Pope St. Gregory prohibited Christians from eating all forms of meat and animal products, including dairy, during the 40 days of Lent. Christians abided by the rule and made pancakes on Shrove Tuesday in order to use up their supply of butter, milk, and eggs before Ash Wednesday. Nowadays, the rules are generally less strict, but Christians are still expected to abstain from eating meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday during Lent, as well as fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

Related Link: A History of Mardi Gras—Plus, How New Orleans Became the Place to Celebrate

The tradition spread from England to other parts of Europe including France, where they made waffles, crepes, and the infamous king cake. The French renamed the day Mardi Gras, which translates to Fat Tuesday, and the celebrations grew across the world including in U.S. cities like Mobile, Alabama, and, most notably, New Orleans, Louisiana.

The centuries-long tradition is still popular today. Restaurants and diners such as IHOP are offering free pancakes to patrons during business hours on Shrove Tuesday. Celebrate Fat Tuesday with our Test Kitchen's Favorite Buttermilk Pancakes recipe; for something extra decadent, try these Peanut Butter-Stuffed Pancakes.

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