LAURA CARTLEDGE Life’s like That...I’m developing a real taste for finding out basis of traditions...

Pancakes are great, aren’t they? My favourite way to enjoy them is with lemon and sugar (and perhaps a bit of ceiling dust or floor fluff if the flipping didn’t go to plan.) They even have a special day, marked on the calendar and celebrated in the shopping aisles – but why?

Shrove Tuesday is its proper name but, as we pack away our pans and scrape the bits of stray batter from the kitchen’s crevices, how many of us look beyond the pile of pancakey goodness?

As with many traditions things have been boiled down. Many of us pick the bits we like… such as Easter eggs and Christmas candy… and just leave the rest. I’m not saying we should all head to the nearest place of worship to justify being able to indulge in the edible treats these holidays bring – I just think it is nice to find out more.

It’s not about being religious; it is about being curious. And there are few things better to be curious about than traditions.

Take this week, for instance. Many of us will have dined on pancakes to celebrate Shrove Tuesday, but how many of us are observing its arguably less-appetising neighbour Ash Wednesday? It marks the start of Lent – 40 days of fasting from food and festivities, which I’ll agree doesn’t sound as much fun.

Nowadays only a small number of people fast for the whole of Lent. Instead it is more common for people to give up a particular vice such as favourite foods or smoking. For me the 40 days provides a nice challenge and over the years I have given up a whole wealth of things, some of which have been more successful than others.

Chocolate, for instance, kept trying to trip me up and I managed to avoid its advances until the final week when my supposed ‘safe choice’ of a strawberry Cornetto foiled me with its chocolate-lined cone.

As for my attempt to give up cheese? I think I would have just made it… if Lent was measured in minutes rather than days.

This year I am giving up buying lunch. Every day I head, like many workers, into town instead of creating something from my cupboard at home. As a result my sandwich bill is racking up to about £20 a week. Lent spans seven working weeks, making a whopping saving of £140 – money which I’ll then put to a good cause.

Making and bringing in my own lunch to the office will also mean I have to have more organised mornings. Win win, I think!