News / USA

Pancake Races Observe Beginning of Lent

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These pancake racing contestants are Yanks outside the National Cathedral in Washington.  But the tradition started across the pond (Atlantic) in England.

Even Prince William and Kate Middleton flipped flapjacks (pancakes) in Belfast last year. And it's a common charity race in London.

"This is something that has gone on - in England especially - for over 500 years," said Andrew Hullinger from the National Cathedral.

Legend has it that an English woman was too busy making pancakes to notice the time.  So, when the church bells rang at noon - she raced from her house to attend the service - still carrying her skillet and pancakes.

These days, the pancakes are the frozen kind you pop in the toaster.  And, the rules are simple.

"You have to flip your pancake three times," said Hullinger.

And, every time it drops, a poem is recited:

"Pancakes are good, pancakes are greasy, I thought flipping pancakes was going to be easy."

Winners receive a golden griddle

Or, a golden bottle of pancake syrup.

"Oh yes, you got to flip," explained the winner. "It’s all in the wrist."

Cheeky little devil is spot on, as they say in England.  He wins it all here in the states.  And reigns king over the last day of exuberant frivolity until Easter.

"Upon a sea of pancakes strewn upon the ground," said Hullinger. "Amen.  Amen!"


Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an award-winning television reporter who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.  She has won an Emmy, many Associated Press awards, and a Clarion for her coverage of Haiti,  national politics, the southern economy, and the 9/11 bombing anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Syrian medical crisis and the Asiana plane crash, and was VOA’s chief reporter from the Boston Marathon bombing.

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