Snow Pancakes (Shrovetide)
The end of February heralds the beginning of Lent which this year starts on 1 March. Most of us know of Shrove Tuesday when pancakes are traditionally baked, but Shrovetide actually consists of four days. Egg Saturday when eggs needed to be used up as they were forbidden during lent; Shrove Sunday (or Quinquagesima); Collop Monday when collops (meat) remaining in the larder would be eaten and Shrove Tuesday. Pancakes were made in order to use up eggs, butter and milk before the fasting commenced. The first three pancakes needed to be put to one side and left uneaten. “One for Peter, one for Paul and one for Him who made us all.” Single girls would feed a pancake to a rooster. The number of hens joining in this meal signified the number of years the girl would remain unwed.
The tradition of eating pancakes before Lent pre-dates Elizabethan times. Thought to be symbolic of the unleavened bread shared at the Feast of the Passover, they were common in communities where the only method of cooking was over an open fire. During Chaucer’s time they were known as crisps or cresps.
A tradition from Victoria times was to make pancakes with snow. These were egg-free and very light.