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Happy Shrove Tuesday (aka Pancake Day)

Filed under History of Holidays, History/The Book of Days

Thanks to Chambers’ Almanac, The Book of Days:

“Shrove Tuesday derives its name from the ancient practice, in the Church of Rome, of confessing sins, and being shrived or shrove, i.e. obtaining absolution, on this day. Being the day prior to the beginning of Lent, it may occur on any one between the 2nd of February and the 8th of March. In Scotland, it is called Fasten’s E’en, but is little regarded in that Presbyterian country. The character of the day as a popular festival is mirthful: it is a season of carnival-like jollity and drollery — ‘Welcome, merry Shrovetide!’ truly sings Master Silence.

“The merriment began, strictly speaking, the day before, being what was called Collop Monday, from the practice of eating collops of salted meat and eggs on that day. Then did the boys begin their Shrovetide perambulations in quest of little treats which their senior neighbours used to have in store for them — singing:

‘Shrovetide is nigh at hand,
And I be conic a shroving:
Pray, dame, something,
An apple or a dumpling.’

“When Shrove Tuesday dawned, the bells were set a ringing, and everybody abandoned himself to amusement and good humour. All through the day, there was a preparing and devouring of pancakes, as if some profoundly important religious principle were involved in it. The pancake and Shrove Tuesday are inextricably associated in the popular mind and in old literature. Before being eaten, there was always a great deal of contention among the eaters, to see which could most adroitly toss them in the pan.”

I read the entry for each day of the year during the year 2000 (the “Book” is actually a 2-volume set of approx. 1500 pages). It’s a fascinating glimpse of what was probably common knowledge in the Victorian age. More info:
Chambers’ Almanac, The Book of Days

Or more about “Pancake Day.”

Posted by Leslie, March 7th, 2011

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