Pancake Day, otherwise known as Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday, is the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.
It marks the day of a moveable feast and is observed by many Christian denominations, including the Anglican, Roman Catholic, Methodist and Lutheran churches.
Traditionally, it's a day of self-examination to consider which wrongs they should "repent" during the season of Lent. The term Shrove Tuesday comes from the word shrive, meaning to "confess".
Mardi Gras, meaning Fat Tuesday in French, refers to the practice of eating richer, fattier foods before the ritual fasting of Lent. Eating pancakes, which is customary in the UK, devolved from using eggs and butter in the batter - as they were ingredients forbidden during the fast.
How is it celebrated around the world?
In Brazil, as well as Portuguese, Spanish and Italian-speaking countries, it is celebrated as Carnival - which derives from the words carne levare. Meaning to "take away meat". It is often celebrated with colourful a procession, music and fancy dress. The most famous event is the Brazilian Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Italy, Venetians celebrate with a masquerade.
In Poland, the day is sometimes called Paczki Day, which translates as Doughnut Day, which falls on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday. Paczki-eating contests take place, alongside music and the consumption of other Polish foods. Large communities in Chicago, Buffalo and Detroit occasionally celebrate Paczki Day instead of Pancake Day. It is also called tłusty czwartek, or Fat Thursday.
Pancake races also take place, in which people must toss and flip their pancakes into the air before crossing the finish line. Points are awarded for time and the height of flips. It is suggested that the tradition came from people rushing to church to confess their sins before the noon cut-off time, after cooking the pancakes.
Best pancake fillings?
Lemon and sugar is the simplest - and arguably the tastiest - pancake filling. However, chocolate spread with sliced banana is also popular in the UK. Jam is an easy filling, as is Canadian maple syrup.
Pancakes, which are like French crepes rather than smaller, thicker American-style pancakes, can also be enjoyed as a savoury dish. Cheese and tomato, as well as mushroom, are popular. Vegetable pancakes can be enjoyed as a dinner, or egg and bacon pancakes can be eaten for breakfast.