Collop Monday

By Collop Monday

Day before Shrove Tuesday

Two days before Lent, and the day before Shrove Tuesday, is Collop Monday. As Lent represents the fast Jesus undertook in the desert and is acknowledged by the giving up of luxuries such as meats, fats, creams, and eggs, these items would traditionally be consumed in the days leading up to Ash Wednesday, which is the first day of Lent. Collop Monday was the day to eat meat and eggs, and so render fat which could be used the next day on Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, with cream to cook pancakes.

A collop was a chunk or slice of meat or fat. Collops would often be salted so they would last weeks, if not months. Whatever collops of meat remained, which had not been eaten during the Carnival period before Lent, would be fried in a skillet pan with eggs for breakfast. The meal would be eaten, and the fat collected for the following day’s pancake batter.

Noe one Brother of the said Fellowship shall hereafter buy or seeke any Licence of any person whatsoever to kill Flesh within the Towne of Newcastle in Lent season.

The Ordinary of the Butchers’ Company at Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 1621

There were various local bylaws prohibiting the killing of animals or selling of meat during the Lent period, so often butchers would sell off collops and scraps of meat at discount price to clear out their stock before Lent. This, along with the need to render fat for pancakes, increased the popularity of the Shrove tradition of Collop Monday.

In Tudor England, a collop was a thick slice of bacon. In that regard, Collop Monday was the day of the most decadent breakfast: bacon and eggs. In some parts of Northern England and Scotland, Collop Monday is still celebrated, though usually with modern bacon instead of salted collops.

Jeremias van Winghe, Kitchen Scene, Public Domain
Jeremias van Winghe, Kitchen Scene, Public Domain
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