Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Shrove Tuesday
...International Pancake Day...

Nobody knows just how long people have been making and eating pancakes but you could almost call the flat bread made by primitive families twelve thousand years ago, a pancake. Pancakes were made by grinding grains and nuts and adding water or milk. This mixture was then shaped into flattened cakes and baked on the hot stones surrounding the fire.

I suspect that the making and eating of pancakes has always been much the same… a noisy, stimulating, exhilarating, greedy, happy time. Pancakes just seem to affect people that way. So it's not too surprising that two happy events for people… pancakes and festivals are often linked together.

Perhaps the best known one is Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day, which heralds the beginning of fasting in Lent. On this day (so the historians say) there were feasts of pancakes to use up the supplies of fat, butter and eggs... foods that were forbidden during austere Lent.

In England there arc several celebrations on this day but perhaps the best known one is the Pancake Day Race at Olney in Buckinghamshire which has been held since 1445. The race came about when a woman cooking pancakes heard the shriving bell summoning her to confession. She ran to church wearing her apron and still holding her frying pan, and thus without knowing it, started a tradition that has lasted for over five hundred years.

According to the current rules, only women wearing a dress, no slacks or jeans, an apron and a hat or scarf, may take part in the race. Each contestant has a frying pan containing a hot, cooking pancake. She must toss it three times during the race that starts at the market square at 11.55 am. The first woman to complete the winding 375 metre course (the record is 63 seconds set in 1967) and arrive at the church, serve her pancake to the bellringer and be kissed by him, is the winner. She also receives a prayer book from the vicar.

On the same day at 11 am at Westminster School in London, a verger from the Abbey leads a procession of eager boys into the playground of the school for the Annual Pancake Grease.

The school cook, who must be something of an athlete to manage it, tosses a huge pancake over a five metre high bar and the boys frantically scramble for a piece. The scholar who emerges from the scrum with the largest piece receives a cash bonus from the Dean. The cook also gets a reward.

Across the Channel in France the main ceremonial day, for pancake eating is Candlemas on the 2nd of February. This holy day is six weeks after Christmas and is the day that Christ was presented at the temple by his mother. During this festival, French children wear masks and demand pancakes and fritters.

In various parts of the country, there are different customs. In Province, if you hold a coin in your left hand while you toss a pancake, you'll be rich. And in Brie the first pancake (which is never very good anyway) is always given to the hen that laid the eggs that made the pancake. And it's always regarded as bad luck to let a pancake fall on the floor while tossing it.

Legend has it that Napoleon, who liked to make and eat them with Josephine, blamed the failure of his Russian campaign on one he had dropped years before at Malmaison during Candlemas.

Pancakes are the traditional treat of the Jewish Hanukkah festival. They are fried in oil to commemorate the oil found by the Maccabeans when they recaptured Jerusalem from the Syrians, two thousand years ago. The one day's supply of oil for the temple lamps burned miraculously for one week. And, tradition says, the wives of the soldiers hurriedly cooked pancakes behind the lines for their warring husbands.

Large or small, fat or wafer thin and made with a wide range of flours, pancakes are given different names by different peoples. There are Hungarian palacsinta, Chinese egg rolls, Jewish blintzes, Russian blini, Italian cannelloni, Swedish plattar, Mexican tortillas, American hotcakes, German pfannkucken, Norwegian lefser, Austrian nockerin, Welsh crempog and Australian pikelets: but undoubtedly the most famous of them all is the great French crepe.

From Pancake and Crepe Cookery by Diana Daisy

I hope everyone has a lovely day today. Enjoy your pancakes ... I know I will !!

Take care, 'till next time,



Clare said...

For a moment I was like why are you posting about Shrove Tuesday when it's still Monday? Then I remembered you are way ahead of us time wise :).

Enjoy your pancakes.

Meow said...

I probably should have waited until my tonight to post this one, then it would be your tomorrow !!!! Take care, Meow

Chloe said...

i'm making pancakes in honour of the day as soon as i wake up (it's technically still yesterday here)

Meow said...

Chloe, I hope your yesterday was great ... my today is coming along just nicely. I know your pancakes will be devine ... post a photo to show us them !!!! Have a great day Tuesday. Take care, Meow

Kish said...

Yum, I am super hungry now :). I love me some pancakes!

Cathy said...

Thanks for reminding me!
We'll be making some tomorrow morning for breakfast!

Meow said...

Kish .... Is it today or yesterday where you are ???? Hope you enjoy those pancakes !!!

Cathy ... enjoy your breakfast pancakes.

Take care, ladies. Meow

Badoozie said...

my favorite mix is "Snoqualmie falls". just add water, and yummy!!

okay, why would the bellringer want to kiss a sweaty, woman with a burned pancake.

thanks for the good pancakey info, you did a good job on the research, now just make quotes, and put it in APA format and you'll get an A!!!

Meow said...

Susie ... it was a slack way of posting, really. Just found something interesting, copied and pasted ... vwala !! Didn't have much to say today !! Take care, Meow

Neo said...

Meow - LOL, now I'm hungry!

Btw, what's a fritter?

Peace & Hugs,

- Neo

Meow said...

Neo ... over here, a fritter is something dipped in batter (usually flour & water) and deep fried (a pineapple fritter is a slice of pineapple, dipped in batter and deep fried, a banana fritter is a whole banana ..... you get the picture !!). Don't know if there is anything else that could be called a fritter, but that's what I know it as !!
Have a great day, take care, Meow

Aunt Jo said...

i was not a pantie cake fan until my children asked for them. now i like them with sausage and a little bit of syrup.

i like having breakfast for supper do you?

Cinthia said...

Hmmm, I adore crepes. Thanks for reminding me! I'm gonna make myself some as soon as I can get the ingredients for it.

True Blue Guy said...

very interesting - I learnt a lot about pancakes and will be sure to remember it when I have pancakes next


Jamie Dawn said...

When I fix pancakes I put some brown sugar and a little bit of lemon juice in the batter. YUMMY!!!!

Michelle said...

Bugger! I had hot cross buns!

Meow said...

Aunt Josefina ... pancakes with sausage ???? I've never had that!! As a matter of fact, I do like to have breakfast food for dinner ... nothing like scrambled eggs on toast at night, or pancakes, or even a bowl of cereal or porridge. Yum !!

Cinthia ... crepes ... yummy, especially with ham and cheese.

True Blue Guy ... glad to have been of assistance !!!

Jamie ... that sounds yummy ... nice sweet pancakes ... mmmmmmm !

Michelle ... hot cross buns ?? But it's not easter yet !!!

Take care, all. Have a great Tuesday. See ya, Meow

Connie and Rob said...

Great post. I learned so much!

I will definitely be having pancakes after that mouthwatering story.

Hope you have a wonderful day!
Hugs, Connie

ange said...

bugger forot all about it!

Viamarie said...

Just had blueberry pancakes this morning. Have been eating pancakes for years but never knew that this was a big event.

Thanks for sharing the interesting information. Btw, I like your list. Thanks again for answering the meme.


Devil Mood said...

I wish I was somewhere where they made pancakes - it's not a tradition over here in Portugal. Today is Carnival and the only tradition is to eat a lot of meat (I don't because I don't eat meat). I hope you have a lovely day and if you can send me a pancake ;)

Da Gal said...

Holy cow!! Who knew that pancakes... a delectable treat when slathered in syrup or peanut butter or fruit with whipped topping or whatever had such an extensive history.

I just might have to make pancakes for dinner now.

Thanks for stopping by - I look forward to getting to know you better!


Hmm. I love pancakes. That was very informative and very interesting.

Kish said...

Right now, as I type this it is Tuesday Feb 21st...what time is it there?

angel, jr. said...

I love pancakes.

Meow said...

Connie ... hope the pancakes were lovely !!!

Ange ... they didn't make a big fuss about it in the media today, did they ???

Viamarie ... your pancakes sounded yummy. Sorry I didn't put the meme on my own blog ... but I did do it !!

Devil Mood ... sending you a virtual pancake ... let me know how it tastes !!!

Msmegnolia ... thank you, too, for visiting. Looking forward to many happy visits between us !!

Fridays Child ... glad you found it interesting.

Kish ... as you typed your comment it was 3.34am Wednesday 1st March ... how come you were on February 21st ??

Angel ... so do I !!

Hope everyone had a wonderful Pancake Tuesday ... now, on with Wednesday !!!

Take care, Meow

kyahgirl said...

That is so interesting. I'd love to see the Pancake day race :-)

Meow said...

They often have the races here in the city. It looks like a lot of fun, running down a street, flipping pancakes ... hope they're not too hot.

Take care, Meow

Justine said...

shrove! I totally forgot! but funnily enough, we made pancakes on the weekend. isn't that... wow.
I've had some really big coincidences lately.

Meow said...

Justine ... coincidences are amazing, aren't they. It was wierd this year, the local press didn't make such a big hoo-hah as they normally do, leading up to Shrove Tuesday, and pancake day. Usually they let us know in advance. I almost forgot, too !! Take care, Meow