Grab the iron and get ready to lather on some syrup, it’s International Waffle Day.

Whether you like yours Monte Cristo style with ham and swiss, topped with fruit and ice cream, or freshly made at a Hampton Inn breakfast buffet, waffles have been a worldwide phenomenon since ancient Greeks started cooking flat cakes between hot metal plates.

And March 25 marks the day when fans of the patterned and battered delicacy can celebrate its many forms. And as beloved waffle fairy Leslie Knope said, “We need to remember what’s important in life: friends, waffles, work. Or waffles, friends, work. Doesn’t matter, but work is third.”

A case of mistaken enunciation

In the modern world of seemingly arbitrary food holidays (we’re looking at you Cuban Sandwich Day), International Waffle Day actually has a storied origin.

We can thank our friends in Sweden for this one.

March 25, nine months before Christmas, is known to Catholics as the Feast of the Annunciation, or Lady Day. It marks the day Archangel Gabriel informed Mary of her immaculate conception. In Sweden, where the holiday was celebrated as an important springtime tradition, Lady Day is called Vårfrudagen. With some lax elocution, Vårfrudagen starts to sound like Våffeldagen, or Waffle Day.

Over time, Lady Day gave way to Waffle Day and the holiday spread throughout the world.

A tale of two waffles

While the world looks to March 25 for Waffle Day, the U.S. has its own Waffle Day, August 24. National Waffle Day honors the day in 1869 when Cornelius Swarthout patented the first waffle iron in the U.S. Waffles had been in the country since pilgrims came to the continent, though they were allegedly popularized by Thomas Jefferson when he brought four waffle irons back from Amsterdam in 1789. It wasn’t until Swarthout came along, however, that a U.S.-originated waffle iron was in the registry.

Breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert, waffles are an anytime snack. [Times Files]
Breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert, waffles are an anytime snack. [Times Files]

The Swedish Way

Waffles come in varied forms depending on where you get them. Belgium, a country known for its waffles, has more than a dozen different versions alone.

But if you want to celebrate the holiday like its originators, you’re going to have to find a very specific iron. The typical Swedish waffle comes round and divided into heart-shaped sections. Top liberally with jam and whipped cream.

In Sweden, waffles come round with heart-shaped sections. [Times Files]
In Sweden, waffles come round with heart-shaped sections. [Times Files]

How will you be celebrating International Waffle Day? Tell us in the comments below.