On Tuesday 13th February, Christians and non-Christians across the UK will eat plates full of pancakes and take part in a series of pancake-related activities and competitions.

For centuries, eating pancakes was widely considered a popular way to celebrate Shrove Tuesday, which falls the day before Ash Wednesday in preparation for Lent.

However, the day is celebrated in many different ways around the world, with many different foods.

Pennsylvania: Shrovetide

They may seem strange and otherworldly, but fastnachts are actually very similar to donuts.

The candy will be sold across the state on Shrove Tuesday — named after the Pennsylvania Dutch community where it originates — in several forms, including icing sugar, cinnamon and powdered sugar.

The idea is that those who participate in Lent, in which people give up a “luxury” for 40 days, can indulge in some sweets and sugary foods beforehand.

Sweden: Semla

Semla is a cream-filled bread eaten year-round in Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia, but is traditionally eaten in the country on Shrove Tuesday.

They are often topped with powdered sugar and cinnamon and sometimes contain almond paste in addition to the cream.

Estonia: Pea Soup

Pea soup.

(Getty Images)

Nicknamed Vastlapäev, Shrove Tuesday in Estonia is unique because it is celebrated with a savory dish rather than a sweet one, as is customary in the UK and US.

Instead of pancakes or donuts, Estonians eat pea soup, which traditionally contains dried yellow peas, barley and pork belly. They also eat semla.

Madeira: Malasadas

In Madeira, Portugal, people celebrate the day before Lent by cooking and eating malasadas, a sweet, sugar-based pastry treat that resembles a donut.

Similar to the reasons why Brits eat pancakes, the idea is that making malasadas on Shrove Tuesday gives people the opportunity to use up all the indulgent ingredients they won't be able to eat during the 40-day period of Lent.

Spain: omelets

(Getty Images/iStockphoto

(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The equivalent of Fat Tuesday in Spain is Jueves Lardero, which directly translates to “Fat Thursday”.

The day marks the beginning of a week-long carnival that precedes Lent and, in some regions, has become known as El Día de la Tortilla. As the name – which translates to “the day of the tortilla” – suggests, El Día de la Tortilla's favorite celebratory dish is the Spanish omelet, a national specialty that usually contains egg, potatoes and onions.

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