Shrove Tuesday is a holiday with a movable date, due to its relationship to Easter. The final day before Lent, it has many meanings, both spiritual and practical. The spiritual purpose of Shrove Tuesday is to take stock of the year and determine what things one must bear in mind during repentance. The name "Shrove" Tuesday is derived from the curious path of the Latin word "scribere," which means "to write." This word made its way into Britain by Germanic people who had cultural contact with Romans. Because an average person would generally only hear this word concerning rules and religious practices, the word's meaning came to be "penance." In fact, the word "scrīfan" came to be the official Church word for penance. This evolved into "shrive" and "shrift" in English, as well as the holiday name of Shrove Tuesday.
Practically speaking, Shrove Tuesday is the last day before the great fast of Lent. As a result, many take it as an opportunity to have a final feast and party. Because this holiday marked the last day to use up one's stocks of fats and eggs, a British tradition was born: Pancake Tuesday. Pancakes make use of ingredients that are banned during Lent and would spoil before its end, and pancakes are especially suited to making use of whatever other ingredients one has on hand, either as a filling or a topping. Pancakes do not take long to prepare, and, because they are served fresh, they require the presence of diners at a specific time, encouraging family gatherings.
Pancake Tuesday has spawned traditions that mark this final encounter with delicious food before Lent. Read on to learn about 25 of them!