9 Feb 2016


Hoping to find some interesting folklore character(s) associated with Shrove Tuesday I was a bit disappointed when all that I could come up with was mention of ...
  • The Toddington Witch. Imprisoned, so legend has it, within a mound beside the parish church. It is said if you put your ear to the mound on Shrove Tuesday you can hear her cauldron boiling as she prepares her pancakes.

The day immediately preceding Ash Wednesday ...
  • In Britain known as Shrove Tuesday or perhaps  more commonly 'Pancake Day' thanks to the tradition of eating, err, panckes.
  • In German, Fastnacht and in Dutch, Vastenavond meaning 'Eve of the Fast' in reference to the fast about to begin. 
  •  Mardi gras (French), martedì grasso (Italian), and terça-feira gorda (Portuguese) all meaning 'Fat Tuesday' and denoting the feasting of fatty foods before the austerity of Lent
  • The Spanish martes de carnaval, 'Carnival Tuesday', reflecting the rigorous Lenten abstinence from meat through the forty days of Lent ...
Derived from the Anglo Saxon lencten denoting the Spring season, 'Lent' is believed to have its roots in either an ancient spring festival or a pagan agricultural rite marking the transition between winter and summer. 

In Pre-Christian times the Slavs believed that the change of seasons was a struggle between Jarilo (the god of vegetation, fertility and springtime) and the evil spirits of cold and darkness. That by eating the hot, round pancakes, the first of which were put on a window ledge for the spirit of the ancestors, they were granted the power of the sun's warmth and light.

In parts of post-reformation Britain however, on Shrove Monday meat and eggs were eaten, gifts of flour, eggs, or money collected to provide Shrove Tuesday fare. The villagers reciting a 'shroving or 'Lensharding' verse' which, according to several sites, went like this ...

Please I've come a-shroving
For a piece of pancake
Or a little ruckle cheese
Of your own making.
If you don't give me some,
If you don't give me none,
I'll knock down your door
With a great marrow bone
And away I'll run ...

with those who refused to contribute likely to suffer the loud knocking of clubs on their doors.

The Irish meanwhile, according to one insight into the typical Shrove Tuesday circa nineteenth/twentieth century, had it as a time when
family and friends got together, gathering around the fireside. The honour of the tossing of the first pancake going to the eldest, unmarried daughter of the hosts household. Her luck during the year dependent on her success for if she is lucky in the tossing of the pancake she is destined to have her pick of the men BUT if by mischance the pancake is not successfully tossed or, worse still, falls amongst the fires ashes, she is doomed not to marry that year.

Thinner than an American pancake, Mr T uses the Be-Ro recipe below from a book that belonged to my nana. 
  • 4oz Be-Ro plain flour
  • Quarter of a teaspoon of salt
  • 1 egg
  • Half a pint of milk (or a mix of milk and water)
  • 2oz lard or fat.
  1. Mix flour and salt in a basin, make a hollow in the centre and drop in egg
  2. Stir with a wooden spoon and add liquid gradually, until all the flour is worked in
  3. Beat well and add remaining liquid
  4. For each pancake, melt a small piece of lard/fat in the frying pan. When it begins to smoke, stir the batter and place two tablespoonful into the pan
  5. When golden brown underneath, turn and cook other side
  6. Turn out on sugared paper, sprinkle with sugar and roll up
  7. Place on a hot dish and serve immediately with sugar or syrup, lemon or orange 
OR as Mr T does ...
  • Follow instructions as numbers 1 to 5
  • Add required filling (we both like golden syrup, Mr T sometimes preferring sugar and Jif lemon
  • Place on a hot dish and serve immediately.


LL Cool Joe said...

Oh I forgot it was today. I can't see anyone in my family cooking or eating any pancakes, in fact I still have the ready made pancake mix I bought last year that was never used! It appears that just adding water was too complicated for any of us to cope with. :D

Kelly said...

I always enjoy all the things I learn from your posts like this, Tracy.

Our local Lutheran church hosts a Shrove Tuesday pancake supper. My church (Episcopal) does raw oysters instead, along with red beans & rice and king cake - our nod to Mardi Gras (after all, we're almost in Louisiana). Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Karen Alderman said...

Mmmm pancakes!

Karen @For What It's Worth

Nikki-ann said...

I seriously need to find a "free-from" pancake recipe as everyone is blogging about their pancakes today!

I seem to remember Mum having a Be-Ro recipe book, I'll have to see if I can find it :)

Sherry Ellis said...

I did not know about Shrove Tuesday. I know about Mardis Gras. It's interesting to learn of different traditions around the world. Enjoy your pancakes!

Suko said...

Wish I'd made pancakes for dinner! Fun post, Tracy!

Stephanie@Fairday's Blog said...

My husband loves pancakes, but we barely ever make them.

I learned so much on your blog today. Thanks for the info! :)

Brian Joseph said...

I love your posts delving into holidays, history and folklore Tracy.

Pancakes are always a good thing :) I would not mind trying a lighter version of them