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Skipping Day 2015: Shrove Tuesday Traditions in Scarborough

Scarborough Skipping Day


Forget Pancake Day! In Scarborough Shrove Tuesday has been known as 'Skipping Day' for almost a century.

Originating from an older tradition known then as 'Ball Day' - a public holiday when apprentices and servants would join one and other to play games on the foreshore - ‘Scarborough’s Skipping Festival’ has taken place for around 100 years.

Known today by its more informal name of 'Skipping Day', the tradition is thought to have gained its name from the children who joined in the fun and games with their skipping ropes.

One early account of the festivities cited: 'On this day grown up folks can skip and play without being thought childish. Everyone becomes something different from their usual selves on Shrove Tuesday’.

By the end of the 19th century, such was the popularity of the Skipping Festival, the Foreshore was transformed into an almost fairground atmosphere complete with stalls selling gingerbread, liquorice, coconuts and other treats.

The local tradition continues to be as popular as ever and each year on Shrove Tuesday the Foreshore is closed to traffic to allow children and adults alike join in the fun.

As well as skipping, Scarborough has another unique Shrove Tuesday tradition - the ringing of the Pancake Bell. Originally located in St Thomas’ Hospital, North Street  the Pancake Bell was used to help people keep the time by signaling 6 o’clock in the morning and in the evening. On Shrove Tuesday it was also rung at noon as a signal to housewives to start cooking the pancakes.

The hospital was demolished in 1861 and the bell was moved to the Rotunda Museum where the tradition was continued for another 50 years. In 1979 the original bell was replaced by a ship's bell and in 1996 a new replica 'Pancake Bell' was installed on the corner of Newborough and North Street.

Tomorrow the Pancake Bell will be rung by mayor Pat Marsburg and town crier Alan Booth to signal the start of Scarborough's very unique Shrove Tuesday.

Once the bell has been rung head to Aberdeen Walk to watch teams compete in the annual fancy dress, pancake race and then wander down to South Bay to see, or even take part in, the Skipping on Foreshore Road at 1pm.

Main image © Abdulrahman BinSlmah

Skipping Day 2015: Shrove Tuesday Traditions in Scarborough Reviewed by Editor on 20:56:00 Rating: 5

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