Call it what you want, but it marks the day before Ash Wednesday. Of course, depending on your beliefs, today can mean many things-or nothing. For me, it signifies the day before Lent begins. A day when I celebrate, confess, rejoice, and feast. A day when I indulge in whatever I will be 'giving up' for the fort days of Lent.
Mardi Gras is an overdone version of celebrating this day. People tend to party a little harder than the original intent of 'celebrate.' Mardi Gras AKA Fat Tuesday came about in France. It stems from the fact that originally all fats and fatty foods were consumed on this day to prepare for Lent.
Pancake Tuesday is more my style. Pancake Tuesday stems from the same concept as Fat Tuesday originally did. The traditional thing to do during Lent was to remove meats, eggs, fats, milk, and fish from your diet. So people feasted, sometimes from Sunday. I've heard many different things about how it used to work. But one thing that always stuck with me is this: Beginning on Sunday people began to feast, and continued feasting all the way to Tuesday. By the time Tuesday came along, there was mostly eggs, fats, and milk left-therefore, they made a feast of pancakes. I don't know how true this really is, but I do know that the pancake idea is a good way of getting rid of the ingredients that you cannot eat during Lent.
Now, I will get into the whole Lent subject more tomorrow in my Ash Wednesday post, but I'll say this: I'm Episcopalian, and I've always been. We've celebrated Lent always, from the time I was big enough to eat regular food. My children will also be following the ways I do during Lent. We are not as strict as it was back in the day, but we do follow a certain regimen. Tomorrow, the adults in the house will fast during the day (I don't ask my children to fast, but they are not allowed to eat meat and they are not allowed to have a super big breakfast/lunch. I don't do this to be mean, I do it because I think it's important. They will have the option of branching out to other beliefs when they are older, but for now, it is what it is.) For dinner we will have fish and a veggie or two, that's it. Friday will be the same way-every Friday leading up to Easter Sunday. I say all this to say, I do not do Pancakes today simply to get rid of ingredients in my fridge and pantry that would go bad otherwise (especially since aside from Ash Wednesday and Fridays, we do still eat meat), I do it because it is tradition. It doesn't hurt that my kiddos love pancakes :)
So whatever you call it, whatever you believe: Happy Shrove/Pancake/Fat Tuesday! Feast and celebrate, and have a fabulous day :D