James Mooney, 1889;
‘In the evening, the young folks – and the old ones as well – gather round the turf fire to learn by “tossing a pancake,” what is to be the of their future marriage ventures. A crock of butter having been prepared a part is poured out on the pan to form the first cake, which is consigned to the care of the oldest unmarried daughter.
At the proper time she turns the cake with a dexterous toss up the chimney, and if it comes down smoothly on the other side in the pan, she can have her choice of a husband whenever she likes, if, on the other hand, it falls into the ashes or comes down with a corner doubled over, she cannot marry for at least a year. This is also regarded as an omen of ill-fortune with an accepted lover, and is so strong in the feeling that engagements have been broken off for no other reason.
The lucky tosser of the first cake at once shares it with the other girls. On eating it there is generally found in one slice the mother’s wedding ring and in another a piece of furze, both having been put in the batter before baking. Whoever gets the ring will be most happy in her future choice, while the other will remain unmarried.’
‘Holiday Customs of Ireland’, Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, Held at Philadelphia, for Promoting Useful Knowledge, Vol. 26 Number 190.