Shrove Tuesday is the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of the season of Lent, the 40 days of preparation for the celebration of Easter. Shrove, derived from shrive, refers to the confession of sins as a preparation for Lent, a usual practice in Europe in the Middle Ages.
Shrove Tuesday eventually acquired the character of a carnival or festival in many places and is often celebrated with parades. As the final day before the austerity of the Lenten fast, Shrove Tuesday also has many customs pertaining to food. Pancakes are traditional in a number of European countries because eggs, sugar, and fat, commonly forbidden during the Lenten fast, are used up so they will not go to waste.