Pancake day race was a shock to me!
LAST week I was invited to my two grandchildren's infants school Olney Academy, Buckinghamshire, to read Bumbles of Mumbles stories to all the pupils to encourage them how important it is to learn to read and write.
What a surprise I had while there, because the invitation to speak to the children was Shrove Tuesday — pancake day, which is a very special day at the village of Olney, because it was there in 1445 nearly 558 years ago that the first pancake race took place.
One story how the famous Pancake Race at Olney started was that a harassed housewife, hearing the church bells ring out, dashed to the church still clutching her frying pan containing a pancake.
For when the bells rang out it was to summon the people to the service at which they were forgiven for their sins and the beginning of fasting began at the beginning of Lent, when folk gave up sweet eating things and that a holiday was to start and celebrations could begin at the church. The race continued through the centuries even in the times of the War of the Roses, there was a lapse during the Second World War, but started up again in 1948.
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The pancake race became an International event in 1950 and in the USA in a place called Liberal, Kansas, each year they compete against the ladies of Olney running a pancake race.
The winner is declared after times are compared through a transatlantic web link.
This year I stood with hundreds and hundreds of locals to see the young school children from Olney Academy race each other, dressed in traditional white head scarf, skirt and apron, each child had to toss their pancake then run to the finishing line.
Before my invited visit to the school, I sampled delicious pancakes for lunch — yummy!