Pancakes, sophistry and sacrifice

It is Shrove Tuesday and in England that means pancakes. Not, you will understand, those heart-warming American delights, nor the elegance of French crepes, but ‘proper’ pancakes. For my sons, following in the tradition of the family that has spanned generations… several of which made pancakes for me as a child… it involves Mum armed with a hot frying pan, presiding over a conveyor belt effect of ‘next one’s ready’ and ‘how many more can you eat?’.

In the typical Pancake Day scenario, in our family at least, Mum makes up a huge batch of batter to feed the family. She spends the next hour cooking and deftly tossing pancakes for everyone else, ending up with usually too little batter left for herself. And having cooked so many for so long, really, the desire has all but gone. Just to add to it, she then usually eats alone in the kitchen before washing the dishes.

My eldest son and I have pancakes on the menu for lunch. It was a convoluted journey to achieve that goal, as he watches his diet closely and eats more healthily than anyone I know. Pancakes, oozing sugar, cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, be counted as healthy. But he managed it with a little judicious sophistry and in a spirit of true self-sacrifice, deciding that it was the only way he could guarantee I would have pancakes myself and, indeed, actually eat today.

Pancakes and sacrifice go hand in hand. I wonder these days if the majority of youngsters, rolling up them up and licking the lemon and sugar as it drips, know about the origins of the tradition… using up the rich foods like eggs and butter on the day before the beginning of Lent. In the Christian tradition, it was a day to confess one’s sins and be shriven… hence the name of the day… and prepare for the time of sacrifice to come.

I have often thought how the role of the cook on Pancake Day echoes the tradition behind it. Yet there is a deeper level to sacrifice, however, than merely giving up the odd luxury or a little time and effort.

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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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19 Responses to Pancakes, sophistry and sacrifice

  1. Ritu says:

    Oh I do love pancakes!!!


  2. Violet Lentz says:

    Beautiful post
    I must get a recipe for true English pancakes now


  3. Léa says:

    I can relate to the scenario all too well. By the time I finished making such a meal, there was no appetite. 🙂


  4. Ooh, I do love a pancake – or two!


  5. Darlene says:

    The pancakes I make, American/Canadian style, have no sugar or butter in them, although I often add blueberries. We sweeten them with a little maple syrup drizzled over them. Mom would make the pancakes and keep them warm in the oven so we could all eat together. We always made sure there was plenty for her. It is tradition to have them every Sunday and when I introduced my British hubby to them over 40 years ago, he was hooked. The tradition continues and now Dot loves them too. I enjoyed the history, thanks!


  6. Pancakes were always a special treat for my kids, and now my grandkids. I love to see their faces when I tell them what Granny has planned for them.


  7. Dale says:

    So funny. I forgot it was Tuesday, nevermind Shrove Tuesday and my son (who is on spring break) decided to make pancakes. Ate ’em up and later on, I saw something and did that ole d’un face palm… oh well. Next year. I am NOT having pancakes twice in one day!


  8. Widdershins says:

    Yep, real pancakes! … occasionally I can convince Mrs Widds to make ’em like that. She’s partial to crepes. 😀


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