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Published February 12th 2013

First Came Pancakes Then Came Lent: What Are People Giving Up This Year?

So today is Shrove Tuesday, otherwise known as Pancake Day. We hope you’ve all got your whisks at the ready to whip up some of the tasty treats yourself (here’s a recipe – it’s simple, honest).

Shrove is the past tense of the English word for shrive, don’t ya know? Shrive means to ‘obtain absolution for one’s sins by way of confession and by doing penance’. Pancakes are associated with Shrove Tuesday as they are a way of using up rich foods before feasting for Lent, which starts tomorrow and lasts for 40 days.

Anyway, enough with the religious lessons; our guess is that many people are just excited about the prospect of eating pancakes all night rather than the religious meaning behind it, and then feeling optimistic about their plans to quit various vices for Lent (how long that optimism lasts is another matter).

We decided to take a look at conversation online (because that’s ‘our ‘thing’) surrounding Pancake Day and Lent to understand what the good people of the world are excited about and what they are intending to give up for Lent.

We found over the last seven days that there have been tens of thousands of online comments about Lent and Shrove Tuesday – and a quarter of those were posted today.

People are clearly getting excited about the prospect of eating pancakes today, with 67% of comments related to Lent posted today mentioning the circular food of goodness. Their also sharing the love by wishing fellow social media friends a ‘Happy Pancake Day’.

But it’s not all about pancakes. Following the shock resignation of Pope Benedict XVI – the first papal resignation in almost 600 years – many (thousands) have joked that the Pope was giving up being the Pope for lent, and similar such spins on the story.

But what about what people are giving up for Lent?

We found that 22% of relevant conversation over the past week discussed giving up or quitting specific habits or luxuries for the lent period. We categorised by common themes to see what vices were the most (or least, depending how you look at it) popular. The conversation that fell into one of our categories is divided in the pie chart below.

Amazingly, the most common vice people were intending to give up was technology and social media – that means quitting Facebook, Twitter, your mobile phone, laptop or even the internet in general – with 17% . It seems that many of us might feel that we are too connected these days and feel in need of a break.

Second and third were the the old classics, alcohol and chocolate. Plans to give up fizzy drinks and sodas were also frequent.

And it seems 8% of people are getting their inspiration from film ‘40 Days and 40 Nights‘ by giving up sex, relationships and anything to do with the opposite sex.

What are you giving up this Lent? Do these findings correlate with your own plans?

Plus, if that’s not enough Lent-related data for you, check out these awe-inspiring pancake facts.



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