Sometimes a Pancake is Just a Pancake

I had an email today - from online grocery retailer Ocado as it happens- reminding me to "get everything you need for Pancake Day". Good advice, I thought, although since Shrove Tuesday has long been one of the highlights of my culinary year, I seldom forget. What I couldn't quite believe was the accompanying suggestion for 'ginger nut pancakes'. Now, believe me, I am the last person to call into question any recipe concocted by that doyenne of the culinary arts - Marguerite Patten - but tell me, just what do fancy, dancy, exotic crepes have to do with Shrove Tuesday? On any other day I might give them a try, but on Pancake Day?
Although the reasons are often forgotten or at least overlooked, in the UK we eat pancakes on that one day a year in recognition of the last day before Lent. In the olden days, when everyone was considered Christian (whether they wanted to be or not) the Church required that the six weeks of Lent (the 40 days not counting Sundays that lead up to Easter Sunday) was a time of abstinence. The point of the pancakes was to use up leftover fat and eggs that were forbidden during Lent. Simple pancakes are simple for a reason. OK, you might argue that few of the people who eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday are devoutly Christian, and that even fewer actually observe abstinence of any kind throughout Lent, therefore a bit of tinkering with tradition is just fine. Perhaps it is, but for me it's the continuation of tradition, the ritual if you like, that is so important. It just doesn't seem right - some things are just better left alone. We now live in a world where even traditional Easter hot cross buns are available year-round, and in a variety of flavours too – from traditional to chocolate chip. Cadbury’s Crème Eggs have been transformed into a chocolate bar and Marks & Spencer have started selling mince pies that expire in mid-October! The thing is: once the tradition goes, so does the significance of these special foods. We all have access to all kinds of foodstuffs regardless of the local growing season, is it too much to ask that we hold on to some of our culinary heritage? This year I've decided enough is enough. There'll be only sugar and orange juice on my pancakes and absolutely no hot cross buns until Good Friday.
Somebody has to make a stand and it might as well be me!