Traditions, Values and Young People

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School Festivals: The Pancake Race at Mülheim, Germany


© SueSchi / PIXELIO,


The tradition of a pancake race originated in England. On "Shrove Tuesday", the day before the beginning of Lent, eggs and fat in the pantry had to be used up. That is why pancakes were made on that day.

The story goes that in the fifteenth century on Shrove Tuesday a housewife in Olney in Buckinghamshire had forgotten what time it was.While she was standing in her kitchen and baking pancakes, the church bells ran to call people to the service. She was shocked and ran to church in her apron and with a pan filled with a pancake in her hand.

Out of this story, the pancake race has developed, which is still held at Olney on Shrove Tuesday but also at many other places in the world.

At our school, the race was introduced in the Nineties. It is a relay race between all the classes of Year 5 i.e. the first year of secondary school. It is held on "Weiberfastnacht", the Thursday before Shrove Tuesday, which in some parts of Germany is a day of fun as part of the Carnival celebrations.

The participants have to cover a distance of about 30 metres before handing the "baton" - a pan with a pancake in it - on to the next person in the team. While covering the distance, the pancake must be tossed into the air and caught again, and some obstacles have to be overcome.

The fastest of the seven teams is awarded a gilded pan as a trophy.

Here are some photos from our 2009 pancake race.

getting ready

Before the race: The team, including the cheerleaders, is dressed up and ready.

the team

Part of the team during the race

tossing the pancake

Tossing the pancake

eating pancakes

After the race: Pancakes (not the ones from the race) are eaten.