Shrove Tuesday, or Fat Tuesday as it is also called, is the day before lent which usually involves a lot of pastry eating in many Christian countries. In Sweden they eat Semlor, in Denmark it’s Fastelavnsboller and in the UK they eat Pancakes. But in the little town of Olney in North Buckinghamshire, Pancake Day is a little bit different. Because every year, they organize a Pancake Race where local ladies dress up in traditional housewife attire and run with a frying pan through the streets of Olney. The runners start outside The Bull on Olney Market Place and then run down to the parish church of St. Peter and St. Paul in Church Lane. After the church warden has rung the “Pancake Bell” the runners need to toss the pancake in the pan and the winner have to toss it again at the finish. After the run, everyone joins in for a Shriving Service in the Parish Church.
The race has been run since 1445. But since 1950, the event has become international. At the same time as the race in Olney, the town of Liberal, Kansas in the US organizes the same race. After finish, a transatlantic call is made between Liberal and Olney, and when times have been compared, the international winner is declared.
If you want to see the housewives of Olney run through the streets with frying pans, you should head to Olney on the 16 February. The race starts at 11.55am, but from 10.30am you can take part in some family entertainment to warm up before the race.
- Towe -