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Daily Archives: February 17, 2015

Magnificent Seven Pancake Day Ditties


Shrove Tuesday – the traditional day of feasting and fun before the forty days of Lent, has its own mostly long forgotten tradition of rhymes and verses.

In centuries past a day for eating and exertion with feasting (of a kind) and football (of a sort) Shrove Tuesday has more than its fair share of unique and unusual songs, rhymes and poems. To celebrate the day here’s the collection of Seven Magnificent Pancake Day Ditties.

Pancake Tuesday is a Happy Day… in Lancsahire

Celebrating the tradition fry-up of all the forbidden foods of Lent, this is the rhyme most of us know from our school days. This one’s a 1930s Lancashire version:

Pancake Tuesday is a very happy day,
If you don’t gea us holiday we’ll aw run away,
Eating tawfy, crackin’ nut
Stuffin’ aw pancakes deawn awr guts!

Pancakes and the author of ‘In the bleak midwinter’

Christina Rossetti’s poem for Pancake Day gives outline cooking instructions including a vital hint for tossing the pancake: catch it if you can.
Mix a pancake,
Stir a pancake,
Pop it in the pan;
Fry the pancake,
Toss the pancake,
Catch it if you can.

Shakspeare’s Henry IV and Pancake Tuesday

Shakespeare’s Shrove Tuesday rhyme says something about the importance of the day and the feasting that went with it. In Henry IV part 2, Justice Silence sings:
Be merry, be merry, my wife has all;
For women are shrews, both short and tall;
‘Tis merry in hall, when beards wag all,
And welcome merry shrove-tide.
Be merry, be merry.

Good eating and the Cheshire Guttit Bell

In the Middle Ages Shrovetide feasting was announced throughout England with the 11am ‘Pancake Bell’. In Cheshire the signal was called the ‘good-eating’ ‘Guttit’ bell:
But hark, I hear the pancake bell,
And fritters make a gallant smell.
The cooks are baking, frying, boiling,
Stewing, mincing, cutting, broiling,
Carving, gourmandizing, roasting,
Carbonading, cracking, slashing, toasting.

Shrove Tuesday final score: Derby 0 The Army 1

Disorderly, Shrovetide football involving whole towns, were common throughout England. In Derby the 1839 game was so unruly it had to be ended by the intervention of the army:

Pancakes and Fritters say the Bells of St. Peter’s
When will the ball come? Say the bells of St Alkmun,
At two they will throw, says St Werabo,
Oh very well, says little St Mich-ael.

Pancake Day-light robbery going door to door

‘Lensharding’ or ‘Shroving’ was the Lenten version of Christmas carolling and little more than begging with menaces. Most Shroving adventures were accompanied by singing this threat:
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.

Mardi de crêpe est un jour heureux

Back to the Lenten themes of feasting, fasting and looking forward to Easter, this is a Shrove Tuesday rhyme from probably the best pancake makers in the world, and its translation:
Alegre, Diou nous alegre,
Cachofué ven, tout ben ven,
Diou nous fague la graci di veïre l’an que ven.
Se sian pas mai,
Que siguen pas men!”

Let us rejoice, and may God keep us merry,
For Cachofué, the season of All Good, is coming.
May God protect us in the year ahead,
And if we cannot grow fat,
May we at least not be lean!



Pancake Day also known as Shrove Tuesday in Britain. Pancake day is the day before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. ‘Shrove’ – as in Shrove Tuesday – stems from old English word ‘shrive’, meaning ‘confess all sins’. It is called Pancake Day because it is the day traditionally for eating pancakes as pancake recipes were a way to use up any stocks of milk, butter and eggs which were forbidden during the abstinence of Lent.
Pancake Day, Pancake Recipe 
Pancakes Recipes from Around the World 


The earliest records of pancakes and pancake tossing appeared in the fifteenth century when the pancakes were a little thicker than the modern pancake; they would also often have added spices for a little decadence. It wasn’t until the eighteenth century and the influence of French cooking and their thin crepes that pancakes more as we know them now.

Pancake Customs in the UK and Ireland

‘Shroving’ was a custom in which children sang or recited poetry in exchange for food or money. ‘Lent Crocking’ was one of the many customs of the day when children would pass from house to house asking for pancakes. If they weren’t given any broken crockery would be thrown at the door!

Other customs and superstitions included the belief that the first three pancakes cooked were sacred. Each would be marked with a cross, then sprinkled with salt to ward off evil spirits, then set aside.

In Ireland, Irish girls were given an afternoon off to make their batter and the eldest, unmarried girl would toss the first pancake. Success meant she would be married within the year.

In Scotland, special oatcakes called Bannocks were made using oatmeal, eggs and salt and cooked on a griddle. A charm would be added to the dough and if an unmarried person found it, would be married within the year.

Wales also had their own customs where people would pass from door to door begging for flour, lard or butter. In some parts of Wales children would kick tin cans up and down the streets, believed to be commemorate the putting away the pots and pans for Lent.

Today, Pancake Races are a popular event throughout the UK and Laura Porter, About’s Guide to London has some fun pictures of races in London .

The Pancake Race

The St Anne’s Pancake race 2 -o ‘clock in the Chase

Outside the hut the contestants lined up

There was Ali Charlie and someone from the library

Running as fast as they could

Tossing there Pancakes high in the air,

And out of the blue came two kids pushing a pram

Then the race came out of the Chase and into the park

As the contestants raced past two large dogs started to bark,

Then into the lead came little Tom

We don’t know where he came from.

Wearing a chefs hat, and chequered pants

This race had turned into a merry old dance

The finish was near the crowd gave a cheer,

Home at last the winning post was here

I don’t know who won it could be Ali or Tom?

By Thomas Sims



It’s Pancake Day again

The household are very busy

Whipping up all the mixture

In a frenzy making them dizzy


Mother standing at the stove

Mixing in flour, eggs, milk and water

Eagerly waiting with fork in hand

Stands her precious daughter


No sooner the pancake is ready

Like scavengers they woofed it down

Mother tossed a pancake

Which landed on the ground


The day was enjoyed by everyone

And the children were well fed

Then all the children said good night

As they all trooped off to bed



Malcolm Bradshaw
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