|Observed by||Followers of many Christian denominations and common custom|
|Date||in seventh week before Easter, day before Ash Wednesday|
|Related to||Ash Wednesday|
This moveable festival is determined by Easter. The expression "Shrove Tuesday" comes from the word shrive, meaning "absolve". Shrove Tuesday is observed by many Christians, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists and Roman Catholics, who "make a special point of self-examination, of considering what wrongs they need to repent, and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they especially need to ask God's help in dealing with."
Being the last day before the penitential season of Lent, related popular practices, such as indulging in food that one sacrifices for the upcoming forty days, are associated with Shrove Tuesday celebrations, before commencing the fasting and religious obligations associated with Lent. The term Mardi Gras is French for "Fat Tuesday", referring to the practice of the last night of eating richer, fatty foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season, which begins on Ash Wednesday.
It is probably impossible to know when the tradition of marking the start of Lent began. Ælfric of Eynsham's "Ecclesiastical Institutes" of about A.D. 1000 includes: "In the week immediately before Lent everyone shall go to his confessor and confess his deeds and the confessor shall so shrive him as he then may hear by his deeds what he is to do [in the way of penance]". 
Some suggest that the pancake day was originally a pagan holiday. Before the Christian era, the Slavs believed that the change of seasons was a struggle between Jarilo, the god of vegetation, fertility and springtime, and the evil spirits of cold and darkness. People believed that they had to help Jarilo fight against winter and bring in the spring. The most important part of Maslenitsa week (the whole celebration of the arrival of spring lasted one week) was making and eating pancakes. The hot, round pancakes symbolized the sun. The Slavs believed that by eating pancakes, they got the power, light and warmth of the sun. The first pancake was usually put on a window for the spirits of the ancestors. On the last day of Maslenitsa week some pancakes and other food were burnt in a bonfire as a sacrifice to the pagan gods.
The word shrove is a form of the English word shrive, which means to obtain absolution for one's sins by way of Confession and doing penance. Thus Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the custom for Christians to be "shriven" before the start of Lent. Shrove Tuesday is the last day of "shrovetide", somewhat analogous to the Carnival tradition that developed separately in countries of Latin Europe.
- In the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and Canada, Shrove Tuesday is known as "Pancake Day" or "Pancake Tuesday" due to the tradition of eating pancakes on the day.
- Catholic and Protestant countries (outside those mentioned above) traditionally call the day before Ash Wednesday "Fat Tuesday" or "Mardi Gras". The name predated the Reformation and referred to the common Christian tradition of eating special rich foods before the fasting season of Lent.
- For German American populations, such as Pennsylvania Dutch Country, it is known as Fastnacht Day (also spelled Fasnacht, Fausnacht, Fauschnaut, or Fosnacht).
- In Germany it is known as Fastnachtsdienstag (also spelled Faschingsdienstag, or Karnevalsdienstag) or Veilchendienstag (violas tuesday). It is often celebrated with street processions (called Karnevalsumzüge) or fancy dress. The processions are typically smaller than the ones on Rosenmontag. In Kindergartens and most Elementary Schools it is celebrated with fancy dress. When celebrated in schools, it is normally handled as a kind of half-holiday: classes are off and the school day begins some hours later.
- In the Netherlands it is known as "vastenavond", or in Limburgish dialect: "vastelaovond", though the word "vastelaovond" usually refers to the entire period of carnival in the Netherlands.
- In Portuguese-, Spanish- and Italian-speaking countries, among others, it is known as Carnival (to use the English spelling). This derives from the Latin carnivale ("farewell to the flesh") and thus to another aspect of the Lenten fast. It is often celebrated with street processions or fancy dress. The most famous of these events is the Brazilian Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, while the Venetians celebrate carnival with a masquerade. The use of the term "carnival" in other contexts derives from here.
- On the Portuguese island of Madeira they eat malasadas on Terça-feira Gorda (Fat Tuesday in English) which is also the last day of the Carnival of Madeira. The reason for making malasadas was to use up all the lard and sugar in the house, in preparation for Lent (much in the same way the tradition of Pancake Day in the UK originated on Shrove Tuesday). malasadas are sold alongside the Carnival of Madeira. This tradition was taken to Hawaii, where Shrove Tuesday is known as Malasada Day, which dates back to the days of the sugar plantations of the 1800s, the resident Catholic Portuguese (mostly from Madeira and the Azores) workers used up butter and sugar prior to Lent by making large batches of malasadas.
- In Denmark and Norway the day is known as Fastelavn and is marked by eating fastelavnsboller. Fastelavn is the name for Carnival in Denmark which is either the Sunday or Monday before Ash Wednesday. Fastelavn developed from the Roman Catholic tradition of celebrating in the days before Lent, but after Denmark became a Protestant nation, the holiday became less specifically religious. This holiday occurs seven weeks before Easter Sunday, with children dressing up in costumes and gathering treats for the Fastelavn feast. The holiday is generally considered to be a time for children's fun and family games. (see Carnival in Denmark)
- In Iceland the day is known as Sprengidagur (Bursting Day) and is marked by eating salted meat and peas.
- In Lithuania the day is called Užgavėnės. People eat pancakes (blynai) and Lithuanian-style doughnuts called spurgos.
- In Sweden the day is called Fettisdagen (Fat Tuesday) and is generally celebrated by eating a type of pastry called semla.
- In Finland the day is called laskiainen and is generally celebrated by eating green pea soup and a pastry called laskiaispulla (sweet bread filled with whipped cream and jam or almond paste). The celebration often includes sledging.
- In Estonia the day is called Vastlapäev and is generally celebrated by eating pea soup and whipped-cream or whipped-cream and jam filled sweet-buns called vastlakukkel. Children also typically go sledding on this day.
- In Poland, a related celebration falls on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday and is called tłusty czwartek (Fat Thursday).
- In Slovenia Kurentovanje is also the biggest and best known carnival in Slovenia. There are several more local carnivals: for example in west Slovenia, a very well known carnival takes place in Cerkno. This carnival is usually referred to as Laufarija.
- In some parts of Switzerland (e.g. Lucerne) the day is called Güdisdienstag, preceded by Güdismontag. According to the Duden (semi-official dictionary of the German language), the term derives from "Güdel", which means a fat stomach full of food.
- In some areas of the United States with large Polish communities, such as Chicago, Buffalo and Michigan, Pączki Day is celebrated with pączki-eating contests, music and other Polish food. It may be held on Shrove Tuesday or in the days immediately preceding it.
Pancakes are associated with the day preceding Lent because they were a way to use up rich foods such as eggs, milk, and sugar, before the fasting season of the 40 days of Lent. The liturgical fasting emphasized eating plainer food and refraining from food that would give pleasure: in many cultures, this means no meat, dairy products, or eggs.
In Newfoundland and Cape Breton Island small tokens are frequently cooked in the pancakes. Children take delight in discovering the objects, which are intended to be divinatory. For example, the person who receives a coin will be wealthy; a nail indicates that they will become or marry a carpenter.
In England, as part of community celebration, many towns held traditional Shrove Tuesday "mob football" games, some dating as far back as the 12th century. The practice mostly died out in the 19th century after the passing of the Highway Act 1835 which banned playing football on public highways. A number of towns have maintained the tradition, including Alnwick in Northumberland, Ashbourne in Derbyshire (called the Royal Shrovetide Football), Atherstone in Warwickshire (called simply the Atherstone Ball Game), St Columb Major in Cornwall (called Hurling the Silver Ball), and Sedgefield in County Durham.
Shrove Tuesday was once known as a "half-holiday" in Britain. It started at 11:00am with the ringing of a church bell. On Pancake Day, "pancake races" are held in villages and towns across the United Kingdom. The tradition is said to have originated in 1445 when a housewife from Olney, Buckinghamshire, was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake, tossing it to prevent it from burning. The pancake race remains a relatively common festive tradition in the UK, especially England, even today. Participants with frying pans race through the streets tossing pancakes into the air and catching them in the pan while running.
The most famous pancake race, at Olney in Buckinghamshire, has been held since 1445. The contestants, traditionally women, carry a frying pan and race over a 415-yard course to the finishing line. The rules are strict: contestants have to toss their pancake at both the start and the finish, as well as wear an apron and a scarf. Traditionally, when men want to participate, they must dress up as a housewife (usually an apron and a bandanna). The race is followed by a church service.
Since 1950 the people of Liberal, Kansas, and Olney have held the "International Pancake Day" race between the two towns. The two towns' competitors race along an agreed-upon measured course. The times of the two towns' competitors are compared to determine a winner overall. After the 2009 race, Liberal was leading with 34 wins to Olney's 25. A similar race is held in North Somercotes in Lincolnshire, England.
Scarborough celebrates by closing the foreshore to all traffic, closing schools early, and inviting all to skip. Traditionally, long ropes were used from the nearby harbour. The town crier rings the pancake bell, situated on the corner of Westborough (main street) and Huntress Row.
The children of the hamlet of Whitechapel, Lancashire keep alive a local tradition by visiting local households and asking "please a pancake", to be rewarded with oranges or sweets. It is thought the tradition arose when farm workers visited the wealthier farm and manor owners to ask for pancakes or pancake fillings.
In London, the Rehab Parliamentary Pancake Race takes place every Shrove Tuesday, with teams from the British lower house (the House of Commons), the upper house (the House of Lords), and the Fourth Estate, contending for the title of Parliamentary Pancake Race Champions. The fun relay race is to raise awareness of Rehab, which provides a range of health and social care, training, education, and employment services in the UK for disabled people and others who are marginalised. In 2009 the Upper House won. The race was then won by the Lower House in 2010 with the Upper House reclaiming their winning title in 2011. In 2012, the Lower House were crowned the pancake flipping champions and they retained their title for the second year running in 2013. The House of Lords won it back in 2014. However, at long last in 2015 the Media team finally won the title.
Shrove Tuesday occurs on these dates:
- 2015 – 17 February
- 2016 – 9 February
- 2017 – 28 February
- 2018 – 13 February
- 2019 – 5 March
- 2020 – 25 February
- 2021 – 16 February
- 2022 – 1 March
- 2023 – 21 February
- 2024 – 13 February
- 2025 – 4 March
- 2026 – 17 February
- 2027 – 9 February
- 2028 – 29 February
- 2029 – 13 February
- 2030 – 5 March
- 2031 – 25 February
- 2032 – 10 February
- 2033 – 1 March
- 2034 – 21 February
- 2035 – 6 February
- 2036 – 26 February
- 2037 – 17 February
- 2038 – 9 March
- 2039 – 22 February
- 2040 – 14 February
- 2041 – 5 March
- 2042 – 18 February
- 2043 – 10 February
- 2044 – 1 March
- 2045 – 21 February
- 2046 – 6 February
- 2047 – 26 February
- 2048 – 18 February
- 2049 – 2 March
- 2050 – 22 February
- Nuremberg Shrovetide Carnival
- Bonfire of the Vanities
- Carnaval (Netherlands)
- Carnival of Madeira
- Clean Monday
- Collop Monday
- Fat Thursday
- Hurling the Silver Ball
- Mardi Gras
- Mardi Gras in Mobile– United States French-Catholic festival
- Nickanan Night
- Powder Day
- Royal Shrovetide Football
- Shrove Monday
- Melitta Weiss Adamson, Francine Segan (2008). Entertaining from Ancient Rome to the Super Bowl. ABC-CLIO.
In Anglican countries, Mardis Gras is known as Shrove Tuesday-from shrive meaning "confess"-or Pancake Day"-after the breakfast food that symbolizes one final hearty meal of eggs, butter, and sugar before the fast. On Ash Wednesday, the morning after Mardi Gras, repentant Christians return to church to receive upon the forehead the sign of the cross in ashes.
- Shrove Tuesday inspires unique church traditions KATIE WALKER 7 March 2011
- Shrove Tuesday DARREN PROVINE 1 March 2014
- "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Shrovetide". Retrieved 1 August 2015.
- Елена Петрова. "Shrovetide (Pancake Week)". ypmuseum.ru. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
- "Shrovetide. Maslenitca. Komoeditsy. Carnival - Slavic Souvenirs Blog. Traditions and mythology of the Slavs. Slavic souvenir shop". slavicsouvenirs.com. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
- http://rbth.co.uk/multimedia/pictures/2014/03/01/burning_marena_and_waking_the_bear_at_maslenitsa_34671.html Marena and waking the bear at Maslenitsa
- "CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA: Shrovetide". Retrieved 2 October 2014.
- Carnival 2012: Europe Bids 'Farewell to the Flesh' International Business Times, 21 February 2012.
- [dead link]
- "Shrove Tuesday – Pancake Day!". Irish Culture and Customs. Retrieved 17 November 2006.
- "Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday) in the UK". British Embassy, Washington DC. Archived from the original on 23 February 2007. Retrieved 17 November 2006.
- "Easter in Australia". The Australian Government Culture and Recreation Portal. Retrieved 17 November 2006.
- "Newfoundland and Labrador Heritage". Retrieved 8 March 2011.
- "Its Shrove Tuesday and Pancake Day". Cape Breton Post.
- "Cooks Guide". Cooks Guide. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
- "The origin of pancake racing". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
- "Olney Pancake Race". ukstudentlife.com. Retrieved 17 February 2015.
- 2007[dead link]
- "Liberal wins 60th Int'l Pancake race". United Press International (UPI). Retrieved 30 April 2011.
- (7 February 2008), "Pancake traditions in village", Longridge News, accessed 16 June 2010
- "Mardi Gras Dates". Nutrias.org. 30 January 2009. Retrieved 28 February 2014.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Shrove Tuesday.|
- Wilson's Almanac: Sources and quotes concerning Shrove Tuesday customs
- Worldwide Pancake Recipes: A collection of recipes from different countries