Shrove Tuesday is the religious holiday for which the pancake day is patterned. Throughout the Christian world Shrove Tuesday is a day for feasting, before the 40 day fast of Lent. The name “Shrove Tuesday” comes from the custom of people making their confession, doing penance, and thus being “shriven” or absolved.
The tradition of eating pancakes arose from the English custom in which all foods forbidden during Lent, such as fat and eggs, had to be used up so they wouldn’t spoil. Thus these ingredients were made into cakes, and the day became one of feasting and merrymaking. Mardi Gras, which literally means “Fat Tuesday”, is another form of the Shrove Tuesday holiday which proceeds Ash Wednesday.
The first recorded Shrove Tuesday Pancake Day dinner at St. Mark’s was held on March 3, 1911, at the home of Dr. Franklin L. and Dille Carr. A silver offering of $12 was received. This event and every one until recently have been given by the St. Mark’s Women’s Auxiliary/Guild. This event continued from 1912-1914 at Mrs. Carr’s home, and was advertised as an event to eat electric cooked pancakes.
In 1915 the event moved to the home of Mrs. Carrie E. Fosnot. This also inaugurated the use of Mrs. Fosnot’s special recipe for the pancakes (eggs, flour, and buttermilk), served with lemon, butter, and powdered sugar (this "from scratch" recipe is still used--many batches made!). This venue was used each year through 1933.
In 1934 the Pancake Day was held at the home of George Ninemire, due to Mrs. Fosnot recovering from an injury and not being able to manage the event at her home.
From 1935 to 1942, Pancake Day moved to the Goodie Garden, a local restaurant owned by Nellie & Cleve Hildebrand, using their kitchen and banquet room. Proceeds of $20 were received in 1935, and this grew to $51 in 1941. The Women’s Guild started selling aprons at these events during this period.
From 1943-45 Pancake Day was held in the Eagles Hall, with $77 being the proceeds in 1945. After World War II, Pancake Day returned to the Goodie Garden, and continued there through 1954. The proceeds continued to grow each year, up to $187 in 1952.
From 1955 to the present (almost 60 more years), Pancake Day has been held in Calder Hall, at St. Mark’s, every year on Shrove Tuesday--and has been open and advertised to the public, serving lunch and dinner. In later years ham, applesauce, and beverages were added. The annual proceeds from this single day event have grown up to over $1500, with the net proceeds each year given to local community needs (the last 7 years being fully given to local or crisis needs--over $1200 in 2014).