Tuesday 8 March 2011

Festival of the Week: Pancake Day

Today is Shrove Tuesday, which in England is celebrated as Pancake Day. Pancake Day is usually thought of as a Christian festival representing the last day before Lent, a 40-day period of fasting in the run-up to Easter, when Christians honour the death and resurrection of Christ.

But pancakes were around long before the birth of Jesus. In Pancake: A Global History,author Ken Albala says that pancakes are one the oldest types of bread or cake man has prepared, probably because they are so easy to cook.

They are simply a mixture of flour, egg and milk poured onto a hot, greased surface and cooked on both sides until brown.

The Ancient Greeks and Romans ate them, people enjoyed them in the Middle Ages, and today they are eaten pretty much all over the world in various forms. Pancakes have been a food that has perennially sustained our species and they have had many meanings across various civilizations: as comfort food, as food for travellers, as breakfast food, as part of religious celebrations and as a great dessert.

There are quite a few superstitions associated with pancakes and with Pancake Day. According to Lore Cowan in Are you superstitious?eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday will help ensure that you have sufficient money all year, but if you don't eat pancakes today, you are courting bad luck.

If you are a farmer or keep chickens, you should throw one of your pancakes to the cock. If he eats it all himself it is a bad omen, but if he shares it with the hens it is a sign of good fortune.

I don't keep chickens myself, but I might consider throwing a pancake to the pigeons today and hope that works in a similar way and brings me a bit of good luck.

The picture top right shows Ladybird Book print, The Big Pancake.The picture left is the cover of Pancake: A Global History.Both are available from Amazon.

Links and previous posts
Are you superstitious?
Ladybird Book PRINT, The Big Pancake, 30


LandGirl1980 said...

I had no idea it was "courting bad luck" not to eat pancakes today! I shall HAVE to indulge now!

Manchester Florists said...

I didn't realise that either!! Oh dear I will have to have some tonight now :D

Unknown said...

do waffles count??? same type of batter. lol