National Pancake Day is still two months off, but that isn’t stopping the IHOP restaurant chain from alerting the breakfast public that it will once again be dishing up free flapjacks on this culinary high holy day.

California-based IHOP said Wednesday that it plans to pair National Pancake Day on Feb. 5 with a fund-raising effort on behalf of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. The chain said its goal is to help raise $3 million.

Plans call for IHOP’s roughly 1,500 restaurants across the country to treat guests to a complimentary stack of IHOP’s buttermilk pancakes from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (There are 20 IHOPs in Massachusetts, a company spokeswoman said.)

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Following the flapjack chow-down, guests will be encouraged to make a voluntary contribution to the local Children’s Miracle Network Hospital or other local charities. According to IHOP, 100 percent of the donations will help local charities provide vital equipment, life-saving procedures, and critical care for sick and injured children.

While this will be year eight for IHOP’s celebration of National Pancake Day, the company swears that this brand of feasting draws on centuries of tradition.

According to IHOP, the tradition dates back to Merry Old England and a time when folks took fasting during Lent very seriously. In those days, the consumption of dairy products during Lent was deemed verboten. What was needed, then, was an excuse to use up all the eggs, milk, and butter on the premises just before Lent. And that, says IHOP, was how Pancake Tuesday --- a.k.a. Shrove Tuesday --- came to pass.