Shrove Tuesday, the first day of Lent. It’s a solemn tradition observed in households across the UK, marked by the annual purchase of that one bottle of Jif lemon juice that’ll be hanging around all year and the ritualised sticking of pancake batter to ceilings.

Country-wide lockdowns and social distancing rules have driven us apart for pretty much a year now, so it’s important to remember the things that traditionally bring us together. Lent is a time when we usually try to give something up, at least for a while. This last year or so, though, it’s felt like we’ve given up more than enough already. We’ve lost time with our friends, we’ve missed out on visiting our families. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time we claimed something back.

The tradition of Shrove Tuesday dates back to the Old English concept of “Shriving”. Basically, this just means listening to someone else’s sins and offering forgiveness. Honestly, we’re all better off when we’ve got someone around us ready to lend an ear. With the pandemic putting so much stress on so many people, there really couldn’t be a better time to reach out. Isolation is a major factor affecting people’s mental health issues so, in the spirit of keeping up the conversation, here are a few of our favourite Pancake Day facts. Feel free to use them to boost your own “resident know-it-all” credentials among your friends:

  • Pancake races reportedly date back to 1445, in the Buckinghamshire town of Olney. Apparently, a woman was so engrossed in her pancake-making that she lost track of time and almost missed Shrove Tuesday mass. On hearing the ringing of the bells, she panicked and bolted out through the streets, pancake-laden pan in hand!
  • British pancake lovers will demolish a minimum of 3 pancakes in a single sitting. On average, only a single pancake will be left over per household.
  • We like our pancakes fancy. 56% of us go for the sophisticated French style over the chunkier American versions.
  • The sweet vs. savoury debate rages on with no signs of a resolution. The sugar, maple syrup and chocolate spread crowd seem to be leading at the moment, but there’s still vocal competition from the Cheddar cheese, Greek yoghurt and smoked salmon factions.
  • We’re flipping bad at making them! 40% of our home-made pancakes end up on the floor, while many more end up too thick or thin. 57% of us end up deciding it wasn’t worth the effort.
  • An incredible 80% of UK pancake flippers never even realise it’s easier to use a spatula. Pancake flipping’s a relatively modern tradition, dating back only as far as 1619.

Of course, we’re only talking about the UK figures here. Pancake Days take place all over the world, in one form or another. In Germany, they celebrate “Fastnacht” (Eve of the Feast). Iceland calls it “Sprengidagur” or “Bursting Day”, while France and a few other places tell it like it is with “Mardi Gras” (meaning Fat Tuesday).

If you’re going to give up one thing for Lent this year, make it this: don’t let your mates leave their cash on the taxman’s table. An average tax refund claimed back with RIFT can be worth over half a year’s worth of household food and drink bills. The RIFT Refer a Friend system makes it simple to line your mates up with a tax refund claim, and there are loads of cash and rewards for doing it. Fill your face full of pancakes and their wallets full of refund cash this year. It could mean your friends won’t have to give up anything at all to get by.

Check out the RIFT Refer a Friend scheme now.

RIFT Tax Refunds are the UK's leading tax rebate and tax return experts. Use our free mileage tax relief calculator to see if you could be due cashback from HMRC.