Shrove Tuesday is the day before Lent starts: the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. It’s a day of penitence, to clean the soul, and a day of celebration as the last chance to feast before Lent begins.
Shrove Tuesday is sometimes called Pancake Day after the fried batter recipe traditionally eaten on this day.
But there’s more to Shrove Tuesday than gorging on pancakes or taking part in a public pancake race. The pancakes themselves are part of an ancient custom with deeply religious roots.
Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the ritual of shriving that Christians used to undergo in the past. In shriving, a person confesses their sins and receives absolution for them.
When a person receives absolution for their sins, they are forgiven for them and released from the guilt and pain that they have caused them.
In the Catholic or Orthodox context, the absolution is pronounced by a priest.
This tradition is very old. Over 1000 years ago a monk wrote in the Anglo-Saxon Ecclesiastical Institutes: