Shrove Tuesday marks the last day of indulgence before the fasting period of Lent in Western Christian tradition, lasting 40 days before Easter Sunday. Other names for the celebrations include Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday and Pancake Day. We take a look at how countries around the world celebrate this period, as well as popular pancake dishes from countries including Japan, Vietnam and China.


For more pancake inspiration, take a browse through our best savoury pancake recipes, sweet pancake recipes and indulgent pancake recipes. Looking for entertaining ideas? We've got all the info you need on how to host a pancake party, from assembling a DIY pancake bar to the best pancake kitchenware to buy, including the best pans for pancakes.

Shrove Tuesday traditions from around the world

Italy – Carnevale

Carnevale is a three-week celebration of flamboyant parades and beautiful costumes which marks the last chance to indulge before Lent. A popular sweet treat to enjoy during Carnevale is chiacchiere (pictured below), a golden deep-fried sweet dough sprinkled with icing sugar and, depending on the region, served with melted dark chocolate or zabaione, a classic Italian custard.

This February, you can get your hands on chiacchiere at Lina Stores, available in its King's Cross and Marylebone sites as well as for takeaway from the Soho deli.

Chiacchiere with a side of melted dark chocolate

New Orleans – Mardis Gras

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, which is the last day where people eat rich, fatty foods before the fasting of the Lenten season. Celebrations vary across cities; in New Orleans, Mardi Gras parades are a vibrant display of masks and costumes, lasting two weeks and culminating on Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday). King cake, po' boys, jambalaya, beignets (shown below) and pancakes are a few foods typically eaten during celebrations.

New Orleans traditional beignets with mardi gras beads on rustic wood table with chicory coffee, aerial view.

Denmark – Fastelavn

In Denmark, to mark the coming of Lent, Fastelavn, or Shrovetide, takes place seven weeks before Easter Monday on a Sunday. A popular treat to enjoy during celebrations is fastelavnsboller, or lent buns (pictured below). Found in Danish bakeries and supermarkets in the weeks leading up to fastelavn, the pastry buns are filled with cream or jam and topped with fruits, chocolate or icing.

Fastelavnsbolle or Fastelavn cakes are a Danish delicacy made and eaten in great quantities in many parts of Scandinavia in the period up to the beginning of Lent. Made from puff pastry and filled with cream and or jam and topped with a variety of different flavours, fruits, chocolate and icing. Colour, vertical format with some copy space.

Canada – Shrove Tuesday

Similar to how we celebrate in the UK, Canadians celebrate Shrove Tuesday with pancakes, using up any eggs, milk and butter before the start of lent. The UK's staple lemon and sugar is swapped for maple syrup and bacon, along with more unfamiliar toppings such as partridgeberry jam and sausages. Many pancakes also include small objects in the mix, such as coins, buttons, rings or bits of string, with each object symbolising a certain fate (it's believed that those who find coins in their pancakes will become rich).

Woman Eating Freshly Made Pancakes Or Crepes With Syrup And Berries On Table For Pancake Day

Trinidad and Tobago – Carnival

Held on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the Trinidad and Tobago Carnival is an annual event famous for its colourful costumes, calypso music and energetic celebrations. Food is integral to Carnival, with popular street food dishes including corn soup and doubles (pictured below) — two pieces of flat fried bread filled with curried chickpeas, with condiments such as hot pepper sauce, pickled green mango and tamarind chutney.

A very popular street food native to Trinidad, doubles consists of two fried dough rounds with a savoury chickpea filling. Typical garnishes include a variety of chutneys and hot sauce.

Poland – Fat Thursday

Pancakes, pastries and jam-filled doughnuts are what's on the menu in Poland on Fat Thursday, held on the last Thursday before Lent. It's one of the busiest days of the year, with bakeries opening earlier than usual to prep for the day ahead. Historically speaking this was not always the case; the 17th Century saw the Polish celebrating by eating excessive amounts of bacon, lard and vodka for a whole week. A traditional Polish delicacy to celebrate Fat Thursday is deep fried Polish chruściki (shown below), also known as angel wings.

Angel wings called in Poland faworki or chrust cakes deep fried in oil to celebrate Fat Thursday. A traditional Polish delicacy before Lent.

Holland – Vastenavond

Despite being the home of the enduringly popular Dutch pancake, Shrove Tuesday doesn't involve pancake flipping in the Netherlands. Instead, Tuesday marks the last day of Carnival, also called Vastenavond, where parades line the streets. People also use up any rich and fatty foods before Vastentijd (Ash Wednesday). On the Tuesday, Dutch people often eat stamppot, a meal consisting of mashed potatoes, vegetables and meat.

More like this
Netherlands, Maastricht, Carnival festival. Costumed people in parade, supported by the so called Zate Hermeniekes, Drunken Brassbands, the name for the local Oompah bands

Pancake recipes from around the world


Shrove Tuesday is not a tradition in Japan, however that's not to say the country is short on pancake dishes. Japan is the birthplace of light, airy and fluffier-than-clouds soufflé pancakes, where egg whites are whipped up to form a meringue before being gently folded into the batter.

If savoury is more your thing, have a go at recreating okonomiyaki, a trendy Japanese savoury pancake that's cooked on a flat griddle. Made with wheat flour, pancake fillings typically include cabbage, meat, or seafood, with toppings such as okonomiyaki sauce, seaweeds flakes and pickled ginger.



Pancake Day is not celebrated in Vietnam, however these Vietnamese pancakes make a great addition to your savoury pancake repertoire. Uyen Luu's recipe for Vietnamese bánh xèo is light and herby, stuffed with salad leaves and juicy king prawns.

Two crepes with salad and fillings and chopsticks


Crisp savoury pancakes are a popular street food and breakfast dish in China, where a thin, chewy pancake provides the perfect base for roast duck, pork or chicken. If you're looking for a classic recipe, try Ching-He Huang's Peking duck pancakes, or make our crispy duck and peach pancakes for a sweeter twist. Alternatively, check out our duck with mole sauce and Peking-style pancakes – it's a Chinese-Mexican hybrid which is mainstream in America.

For those not so keen with sweet pancake variety, pay a visit to London restaurant Din Tai Fung for its crispy golden prawn pancake (pictured below), where a crispy fried exterior encases pockets of juicy prawns and pork.

Crispy golden prawn pancake on a white plate


Mexican hotcakes are a popular sweet street food which are similar to American pancakes due to their thick and fluffy texture. Sweet toppings include brown butter, cinnamon maple syrup and spiced goat's milk caramel. Gorditas de Nata, (pictured below), are also similar to pancakes, but look more like an English muffin.


Alternatively, you could give your pancakes a Mexican-inspired twist with these savoury quesadilla pancakes from BBC Good Food.

Gorditas de nata at a street vendor's stand. Typical Mexican dessert.

Comments, questions and tips

Choose the type of message you'd like to post

Choose the type of message you'd like to post