Shrove Tuesday, Pancake day or Mardi Gras is an important date in the Christian religion. It marks the last three days of the Shrovetide at the beginning of Lent. The date of Shrove Tuesday varies with the date of Easter, which is set on a lunar calendar. The date can be sometime between 3rd of February and the 9th of March. Shrove Tuesday is always the day before Ash Wednesday and 47 days before Easter Sunday. The name Shrove comes form the word 'shrive', meaning to confess. Tradition would have that Christians would confess their sins on this day in preparation for Lent.
Shrove Tuesday has become linked with a tradition of eating pancakes. The time of Lent is supposed to be a time of fasting: certain foods, including milk, eggs and butter, are forbidden. Pancakes were made to use up the last stocks of these foods and to indulge a little before the fasting began.
In some cultures and locales, Shrove Tuesday has become associated with feasts, parades, parties and other celebrations -- most notably in New Orleans, where it is known by the French name Mardi Gras, literally "Fat Tuesday".