The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
Food and Drink
Pancakes are thin battercakes fried in a pan. Essentially they are a quick, simple, homemade cake that lends itself to spontaneous preparation, unlike elaborate ritual cakes like the Bûche de Noël or the snake pasty of the serpari. Pancakes are now generally identified as a breakfast food (except in Holland where they are eaten all day), however they have a long history as a ritual food.
In Britain, Shrove Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday) was once popularly known as “Pancake Tuesday.” Ritually eating and making pancakes, as well as pancake-eating contests, were once part of celebrations. These pancakes were often used for divination: Lincolnshire farmers once threw pancakes to their roosters and observed the reaction. If the rooster ate the whole pancake, this was a bad omen; if the rooster summoned his hens to come share, good fortune for the entire family was believed assured.
In Brittany, pancakes and cider are brought to the cemetery as the traditional Day of the Dead offering.
The witch-goddess Perchta expects to find offerings of pancakes left for her on Twelfth Night or else dire consequences are threatened…
In traditional Macedonian ritual, the evil spirits believed buzzing about during the Twelve Nights of Yule are lured close with pancakes, then obliterated as the pancakes sizzle in the pan.
In Grimms’ fairy tale Hansel and Gretel, the witch serves the children pancakes with apples, nuts, and sugar.
See also Apples, Witch’s Brew; BOTANICALS: Apples; CALENDAR: Days of the Dead, Festivals of the Dead, Twelve Nights of Yule; DICTIONARY: Ciaraula; DIVINE WITCH: Angitia, Perchta; ERGOT: Corn Mother: Perchta; FAIRY-TALE WITCHES: Grimms’ Fairy Tales: Hansel and Gretel.