Ready, Set, Pancake! | God's World News
Ready, Set, Pancake!
News Shorts
Posted: February 14, 2024
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    Runners flip their pancakes in Olney, England. (AP/Kin Cheung)
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    In Olney, kids from local schools can run a children’s race before the main event. (AP/Kin Cheung)
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    Kaisa Larkas (right) bolts ahead to win the pancake race. (AP/Kin Cheung)
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On Tuesday in Olney, England, women lined up to race. They tied their running shoes and aprons. They hefted frying pans.

This wasn’t an ordinary race. This was the Shrove Tuesday Pancake Race.

In the traditional church calendar, Shrove Tuesday comes right before Ash Wednesday. It’s the day before Lent begins. Many Christians observe Lent as a season of repentance. (“Shrove” is an old word for “repented.”) Lent lasts 40 days. That represents Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert. It ends on Easter Sunday. Those who observe Lent usually fast from something, such as sugary donuts . . . or pancakes. That means Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to chow down or use up your ingredients.

Hence—the pancake race.

The runners wear headscarves and aprons. They carry a pancake in a frying pan. In full pancake gear, they run 415 yards. They must flip the pancake at the start and end of the race.

“It’s a horrible distance,” says Kaisa Larkas. But she says the race is good fun. She’s a 44-year-old mother of four. She won the race with a time of 63.37 seconds.

The tradition goes back to a legend from 1445. A housewife was making Shrove Tuesday pancakes when—dong!—the church bells rang. In her hurry, she sprinted to the church service—with her skillet still in hand! In Olney, racers run the path she (allegedly) took.

The tradition spread beyond this English village. People across the United Kingdom flip out for these flapjack festivities. The idea even spread to the United States. The town of Liberal, Kansas, hosts a pancake race. This year, 19-year-old Pamela Bolivar won the Kansas title. She beat Mrs. Larkas’ time by 0.34 seconds. That takes some skillet. Get it?

What do you imagine when you hear the word “tradition”? Some folks hear that word and think old, formal, or even stuffy. But traditions can help us remember to have fun, and even be silly! God gave us His world to enjoy. Sometimes that might look like running down the street with pancakes.

And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. — Zechariah 8:5