British Popular Customs Present And Past - online book

A calendar of the traditional customs, practices & rituals of the British Isles.

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Feb. 3.]                        shrove Tuesday.                                 89
Crowdie is mentioned by Sir F. M. Eden (State of the Poor, 1797, vol. i. p. 498) as a never-failing dinner on Shrove Tuesday, with all ranks of people in Scotland, as pancakes are in England ; and that a ring is put into the basin or porringer of the unmarried folks, to the finder of which by fair means it was an omen of marriage before the rest of the eaters.
The Highlands.
In the Highlands the most substantial entertainment peculiar to the evening of Shrove Tuesday is the matrimonial brose (pottage), a savoury dish, generally made of the bree (broth) of a good fat piece of beef or mutton, which being some­times a good while inretentum, renders the addition of salt to the meal unnecessary. Before the bree is put in the bicker or plate, a ring is mixed with the meal, which it will be the aim of every partaker to get. The first bicker being discussed, the ring is put into two other bickers successively ; and should any of the candidates for matrimony find the ring more than once, he may rest assured of his marrying before the next anniversary.
The brose, and plenty of other good cheer, being dispatched, the guests betake themselves to another part of the night's entertainment. Soon as the evening circle convenes, the Bannich Junit, or "sauty bannocks," are resorted to. The component ingredients of those dainties are eggs and meal, and a sufficient quantity of salt to sustain their ancient and appropriate appellation of " sauty." These ingredients, well mixed together, are baked or roasted on the gridiron, and are regarded by old and young as a most delicious treat; and, as may be expected, they have a charm attached to them which enables the happy Highlander to discover the object of all his spells — his connubial bedfellow. A sufficient number of those designed for the palate being prepared, the great or matrimonial bannock is made, of which all the young people in the house partake. Into the ingredients of it there is some article intermixed, which, in the distribution, will fall to the lot of some happy person, who may be sure, if not already married, to be so before the next anniversary.
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