Pancake Day has been one of my favourite days of the year for as long as I can remember. I’d rank it way above its February counterpart, Valentine’s Day. I’d go so far as to say I probably get more excited for Pancake Day than I do for Christmas and my birthday. And it’s strange, given I can and do eat pancakes on any one of the 364 other days of the year. Yet Pancake Day holds a special place in my heart – and stomach – the reason for which wasn’t quite apparent until now.
Because as much as I love pancakes in all their glory – delicate crepes drizzled with lemon juice and sprinkled with sugar; small, thick rounds that tower on top of each other, dripping with that glorious golden syrup – I’ve realised that for me, Pancake Day isn’t actually about pancakes.
It’s about the people.
Yes, Pancake Day is that special day during which people come together. Wherever you are, whoever you’re with, there are always friends, family or colleagues happy to unite in this annual celebration of flour and milk and how delightful these ingredients can be once mixed together.
We gather in our kitchens, commenting on the thickness of the batter, questioning whether it’s ‘real’ or from a packet, discussing whether we’ll be making small ones or big ones, explaining that the first one always goes wrong, debating which toppings are in the top tier, challenging others on how many they might eat, giggling as ‘too much’ topping inevitably falls from the jar (can there ever be ‘too much’ topping?) and finally exclaiming with delight at how delicious the pancakes are.
When I think about pancakes, I’ve a whole host of memories. And they all involve people.
I vaguely recall making them with my dad as a young child, watching him flip them and thinking it was magic.
When I got a little older, I’d go to my Granny’s after school every Pancake Day. There, we’d make the mixture together, mixing and mixing and mixing in the years before she got a hand blender. Granny wouldn’t do flipping (maybe she didn’t trust me to catch them!). We’d use a spatula to turn them over, before plating them up and enjoying them alongside watching Newsround and Neighbours.
Fast-forward to university, where my friend and I would routinely meet up for ‘hangover pancakes’ – the perfect redemption for the night before. We still talk about them now, and her ‘Happy Pancake Day! xxx’ whatsapp brightened my day today. On Pancake Day, our housemates would gather around the hob: Who can throw it the highest? Who can do it with their eyes closed?, usually before a night out at Cheesy Tuesdays – possibly not the best idea after a stack of stodge, though maybe our jovial moods made for even better nights than usual!
Age 25, when noting down dates in my new diary, I noticed that Pancake Day would take place on my 26th birthday! 5th March is quite late for Pancake Day, and I don’t remember this combination happening in my life before*. Of course, this meant a ‘bring a topping’ pancake party. Probably the largest party of my adult life, because everyone loves pancakes.
This year, we’re self-isolating due (of course) to covid. And although Ol loves pancakes almost as much as I do, this morning felt a little strange as we mixed and flipped and drizzled. It was just the two of us – and though that’s something I love so much of the time – today, it felt strange. Like a part of Pancake Day was missing: that community spirit, the gathering of people for this day which, given for the most part we’re not doing it for traditional reasons anymore, is simply a gathering of people for the love of cooking together, eating together and laughing together.
A love of pancakes.
A love of Pancake Day.
That’s the joy of Pancake Day.
A day that brings people together, without the pressure one often feels at Christmas, without the “It’s all about me!” of birthdays.
Just a day to celebrate food, friends and feeling full.
We’ll just have to make sure Pancake Day 2022 is even better. It’s on the 1st March: pancake party at mine?
*I just looked it up. Before 2019, the last time Pancake Day had been on 5th March was 1957! The next time will be 2030, then 2041, then 2052, then that’s it until at least 2100 (by which point I may not need to know). 4 Pancake Birthdays in a lifetime!
Are you a Pancake Day lover too? Why is it special for you?
PS, if you haven’t tried vegan pancakes before, why not give them a go? No ‘funny’ ingredients needed 🙂