The English “Shrove Tuesday” is called
“Schmutziger Donnerstag” in Karlsruhe.
Pancake Race History
On “Shrove Tuesday”, the day before Ash Wednesday – the day when fasting begins -, the kitchen had to be cleared not only of meat but also of eggs and fat as well.
The “Pancake Bells” tolled for that point in time. They were tolled only once a year – on that very “Shrove Tuesday”.
By the way, the first race is said to have taken place as early as 1445. The rules were rigid: The participants did not necessarily have to be feminine, but they had to turn up at the starting point, dressed in headscarf, skirt and apron.
Normally the racecourse led from the Market Square to the Church. The pancakes had to be tossed high up once a time each at the start and at the finish, and naturally had to be caught safely again using the pan. The winners were given a blessing, the bible and the females in addition to a little kiss by the priest, which was also called “Kiss of Peace”.
After that people went to church for the service and in papal times also for confession (to shrive=to hear confession of, to absolve; thence “Shrove Tuesday”).
A location well-known for this race today is the town of Olney in Buckinghamshire, England.
W.C. Hazlitt´s Faiths and Folklore of the British Isles, 1870
This is rung on the morning of Shrove Tuesday to announce that it is time to get the frying pans ready.
[In York], the apprentices, &c., exercised the privilege of going into the cathedral at noon on Shrove Tuesday and ringing the pancake bell.
Dr. Lake, Bishop of Chichester, endeavoured to put a stop to the practice, and the attempt nearly cost him his life.