Shrove Tuesday or Pancake day marks the start of Lent, a season of reflection and preparation for Easter, lasting a period of forty days. It is is observed in the Christian, Anglican, Eastern Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist and Roman Catholic churches.
The expression "Shrove Tuesday" comes from the word shrive meaning absolve. Christians not only use the day to prepare for the fasting period of Lent but to also repent their sins, readying themselves for the new season. It is believed the practice of eating pancakes may have arisen to use up foods such as eggs and butter as they are discouraged from being eaten during the season of Lent.
The custom of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday has also been adopted into the culture of the UK and many other Christian countries. A very popular term for the day of feasting is Mardi Gras which is French for Fat Tuesday. Countries that observe Madri Gras tend to honour the day with a big carnival and the consumption of fatty foods. The celebration of Mardi Gras varies from country to country and city to city, but a common theme are massive parades leading through the streets, where not only locals but also tourists join the party.
The forty days of Lent marked by fasting both from foods and festivities, and by other acts of penance have also made there way into common culture. Many non-religious people take part in giving something up for Lent, ranging from favourite foods, drinks and to removing themselves from social media. Another common practice of Lent that has been adopted into our culture is being "kind to thy neighbour", through the season many contribute to charities or set themselves goals to generally make someone else's day nicer.
I can't say I have decided what I'm doing for Lent yet but I have a whole day to figure it out right?
Happy Pancake Day!