Origins of Shrove Tuesday
To shrive in old English is to acknowledge sins and receive God's forgiveness and spiritual advice. Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the ritual of shriving, when in the week immediately before Lent, people would go to their confessor and confess their sins.
On Shrove Tuesday many Christians would meditate and consider the sins or wrongs they needed to acknowledge and what changes they needed to make in their life to enhance their spiritual growth. When Ash Wednesday was established as the beginning of Lent it was considered appropriate to prepare for it first by being "shriven" or receiving the sacrament of Penance.
How Shrove Tuesday is Celebrated
Shrove Tuesday is also a day of celebration. It marks the last day before Lent and since Lent is a time of abstinence and giving things up, this Tuesday is the last chance to indulge.
There were many foods not eaten during Lent such as fish, fats, eggs and milky foods. Also called "Fat Tuesday" it was a day thrifty housewives would use up all the fat that was in the house for cooking as she would not be using it during the 40 days of Lent. This need to eat up the fats gave rise to the name Mardi Gras, taken from the French Mardi meaning Tuesday and gras meaning fat. Since pancakes are a standard way of using up fat, eggs, milk and flour, the day was also called Pancake Tuesday in England.
Pancake Day Around the World
What happens on Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day around the world?
Davidson M. Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday and Mardi Gras. Religious and Moral Education Press 1984.