Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Brutal Pancakes

If you had pancakes last night while dabbling with the idea to either give up chocolate or wine or something similarly mundane you couldn't have been further away from some of the more brutal Shrovetide customs. In order to expel as much energy and celebration as possible before the pious and sparse Lent it seemed that Football and brutality towards cockerels were the order of the day.Pancakes where but one way to use up the egg and milk that were to be banished over lent...if you could not have eggs then one would not need a hen so why not kill it and have some fun in the process? 'Cock Threshing' as it was known thankfully was banned and out of favour by the mid 1800's while football remained a suitable release for sadistic impulses ' with the added attraction that the victims where human and the drawback that they might include one's self'. The traditional game lacked rules or goals, and merely rotated around the fighting for the possesion of the ball under some sense of licensed misrule. Hopefully more subdues games are still played in Alnwick, Ashbourne and Atherstone.

A much more gentle custom was 'egg shackling', where like conkers the best egg was found by either being the largest, roundest, brownest, whitest or strongest. One could always go 'Shroving' also, this begging custom like trick o' treating would be legitimised by the regaling of a rhyme,

"Shroving Shroving, I come a shroving.
White bread and apple pie,
My mouth is very dry;
I wish I were as well a-wet,
As I could sing for a nut."

Sunday, 15 February 2009


Way before Valentine's Day and overt expressions of love there was the Lupercalia. Although time has blurred to who this festivity was honoured, it has always been tied to the rustic god Faunus, protector of agriculture and flocks and giver of fertility. He has associations with the great Greek god Pan. Today also honoured the she-wolf Lupa who suckled Romulus and Remus the founders of Rome. In short people would don goat skins and celebrate with the usual sacrifice and appearance of vestal virgins. Main celebrations would take place at the Lupercal a cave where Lupa suckled the two.

Legend also has it that today is a day when animals would would help humans.

In the Odinist calender today is in honor of the hero Sigfrid.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Still the Season

Always the season for M R's some current press on the ghostly scholar.

Monday, 2 February 2009


Winter is half over, we are now halfway between the Winter and Spring Equinox! What a lovely snowy delight. Candlemass day ecclesiastically is dedicated to the purification of the Virgin Mary, but it entwined with the older customs of Imbolc. Candles may also be lit today to strengthen the power of the sun.
Those who have the day off, and still have some decorations hung should take heed...

Down with the Rosemary, and so
Down with the Baies and Mistletoe;
Down with the Holly, Ivie, all
Wherewith ye drest the Christmas Hall;
That so the superstitious find
Not one least branch there left behind,
For look, how many leaves there be
Neglected there, Maids, trust to me,
So many Goblins you shall see.

As for the Americans among us, today is Groundhog Day.

The old Cornish game of Hurling is traditionally played in Candlemass week, usually the Sunday closest to February the 3rd.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Rural Pastoral

Imbolc today, Candlemass tomorrow.
Did today's snow foretell the coming of Spring..?

An old Celtic quarter day, Imbolc was traditionally a lambing festival, coming amidst the known 'lean days' of the year which proceeded the festivities of Christmas.
Like Lent, Imbolc grants visions of Spring when snowdrops may be seen, and Oyster Catchers return to Scotland. Cockerels where once sacrificed at cross-roads and the junctions of streams to avert the attentions of evil spirits, and many weather forecasts given....

Today, one should be able to have tea without the lights on as the days should have lengthened sufficiently to make this possible. Here's something nice to have with tea other than a kit-kat.


1/2 pound pink or red edible rose petals
2 cups sugar
4 1/2 cups water
juice of 2 lemons

Cut white bottom off of each petal. Place rose petals in a bowl and sprinkle sugar to coat each petal. Save overnight. In a saucepan place remaining sugar, water & lemon juice. Dissolve contents over a low heat. Stir in rose petals, simmer 20 minutes. Bring to a boil, continue boiling for 5 minutes until mixture thickens. Pour into a clean, warmed jar, cover & label. Store in a cool place.

One last thing, Derby City Hospital seems to be having some difficult patients