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The Pancake Song

Making Pancakes (from the Museum's Archives).
Making Pancakes (from the Museum's Archives).
Woman of the house and good family,
Please may I have a pancake ?
Mother is too poor to buy flour
And Father too lazy to work.
Please may I have a pancake ?
My mouth is dry for want of a pancake.
If there is no butter in the house
Put a large spoonful of treacle,
And if there is no treacle in the house
Give a terribly large pancake.
Terribly, terribly.


SFNHM Tape 819. Collected 9.10.64 from Williams (postman, b. 1899), 2 Salem Terrace, Sarn Mellteyrn, near Aberdaron, Caernarvonshire.


When the singer (b. 1899) was a boy in the Sarn area this rhyme was chanted at the doors by local children on Shrove Tuesday (a moveable festival which falls between approximately the first week of February and the second week of March).

Shrove Tuesday, immediately preceding Lent (and known in both Wales and England as 'Pancake Day'), was traditionally the day for eating pancakes and children would go around to collect them, or the flour and fat for making them. The latter ritual survived in parts of north Wales (particularly Anglesey and Caernarvonshire, it would seem) into the present century, but is now extinct. It was equally well–known outside of Wales: England, for example, had its 'shroving'. Cf. 'Cân y Grempog' with the following rhyme formerly sung on Shrove Tuesday by the children of Sunningwell, Berkshire:

'Pitt a patt, a pan's hott
l am come to scroving (shroving)
Lard's scarce and flour's dear
I cannot sing no longer,
My throat is so dry'

(A. R. Wright and T. E. Lones, British Calendar Customs: England, i, 16).

Upon the custom in Wales see WFC, 72–5. Cf. the text and tune of the Sarn example with those given in JWFSS, iii; 25–7.


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