13th February 2018
The year is 1445. It’s a lovely Tuesday morning in the small Buckinghamshire market town of Olney. It’s chilly outside but the sky is blue and the air is fresh. In a small house a local housewife is busy cooking pancakes before the beginning of Lent. Flour, eggs, salt are scattered about the kitchen – the fire is roaring and through the open windows birds can be heard singing the praises of the early signs of spring.
Our housewife is having fun. The rest of her family are out and she’s got the place to herself. There’s a real spring in her step. She pours some more mixture into the pan and…
‘Ding Dong! Ding Dong!’
The church bells! She’s going to be late. Wearing a headscarf and apron – and still clutching the frying pan, she bursts out of the door and starts to run down the lane to the parish church, flipping the pancake to stop it burning.
Whether this story is true or just an old wives’ tale will never be known – but it is a commonly held belief that this is where the ‘pancake race’ was born.
Today, pancake races happen all over the world, but none is as historic as the one in Olney, a place that has a special place in our heart as we’ve had a store there for nearly 10 years.
“The Olney Pancake Race is the original pancake race, and an Olney tradition which dates back to 1445. It’s a day which brings the whole town (as well as many visitors) together and is super fun to watch and be part of!”
Hayley, On behalf of Olney Pancake Race Committee
This year the race will be held on Tuesday 13th February and will start at 11:55am when the churchwarden will ring the pancake bell and say ‘Toss your pancakes!’
On the day, there’ll be pancake breakfasts, tea and coffee and entertainment for the little ones in the market place and the church hall. So pop along, no matter whether you’re taking part or supporting from the side lines – the Olney Pancake Race is a flippin’ great day out. Find out more here.
And what happened to the heroic housewife and her pancake is not known.
We’d like to think she made mass – and the priest was waiting with a wedge of lemon and a big spoon of sugar.
Have you and your family got any Pancake Day traditions?