From the Catholic Encyclopedia:
The English term "shrovetide" (from "to shrive", or hear confessions) is sufficiently explained by a sentence in the Anglo-Saxon "Ecclesiastical Institutes" translated from Theodulphus by Abbot Aelfric (q.v.) about A.D. 1000: "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 my hear by his deeds what he is to do [in the way of penance]". In this name shrovetide the religious idea is uppermost, and the same is true of the German Fastnacht (the eve of the fast). It is intelligible enough that before a long period of deprivations human nature should allow itself some exceptional licence in the way of frolic and good cheer. No appeal to vague and often inconsistent traces of earlier pagan customs seems needed to explain the general observance of a carnival celebration. The only clear fact which does not seem to be adequately accounted for is the widespread tendency to include the preceding Thursday (called in French Jeudi gras and in German fetter Donnerstag — just as Shrove Tuesday is respectively called Mardi gras and fetter Dienstag) with the Monday and Tuesday which follow Quinquagesima. The English custom of eating pancakes was undoubtedly suggested by the need of using up the eggs and fat which were, originally at least, prohibited articles of diet during the forty days of Lent. The same prohibition is, of course, mainly responsible for the association of eggs with the Easter festival at the other end of Lent. Although the observance of Shrovetide in England never ran to the wild excesses which often marked this period of licence in southern climes, still various sports and especially games of football were common in almost all parts of the country, and in the households of the great it was customary to celebrate the evening of Shrove Tuesday by the performance of plays and masques. One form of cruel sport peculiarly prevalent at this season was the throwing at cocks, neither does it seem to have been confined to England. The festive observance of Shrovetide had become far too much a part of the life of the people to be summarily discarded at the Reformation. In Dekker’s "Seven Deadly Sins of London", 1606, we read: "they presently, like prentices upon Shrove-Tuesday, take the game into their own hands and do what they list"; and we learn from contemporary writers that the day was almost everywhere kept as a holiday, while many kinds of horseplay seem to have been tolerated or winked at in the universities and public schools.
The Church repeatedly made efforts to check the excesses of the carnival, especially in Italy. During the sixteenth century in particular a special form of the Forty Hours Prayer was instituted in many places on the Monday and Tuesday of Shrovetide, partly to draw the people away from these dangerous occasions of sin, partly to make expiation for the excesses committed. By a special constitution addressed by Benedict XIV to the archbishops and bishops of the Papal States, and headed "Super Bacchanalibus", a plenary indulgence was granted in 1747 to those who took part in the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament which was to be carried out daily for three days during the carnival season.
So in England it is known as Pancake day and here is another tradition there.
One of Britain’s oldest and more physically demanding Shrove Tuesday traditions will take place today to raise money for a more modern cause – victims of the Asian tsunami.
The Atherstone Ball Game, which sees hundreds of local men charging through the Warwickshire town in pursuit of an oversized 4lb leather ball, is now in its 806th year.
It has traditionally been started by local celebrities and even royalty.
But this year, a 72-year-old local man, Roland ‘Roly’ Sanders, has the honour of throwing it into the crowd from the Barclays Bank balcony on Long Street.
The water-filled ball, made by famous rugby ball manufacturers Gilbert of Rugby, normally has three red, white and blue ribbons attached to it.
This year, a fourth black ribbon will be added in memory of those who lost their lives in the devastating earthquake on Boxing Day. The ribbon will read: “RIP Tsunami victims.”
Competitors can try to grab one of the ribbons for a cash prize of £10 before the no-holds barred tussling and scrummaging for the ball begins in earnest. [Source]
Or this one:
Liberal is gearing up for the annual Pancake Day race.
The race is held in Liberal and Olney, England, on Shrove Tuesday, which is also known as Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday and Pancake Day.
The race will start at 11:55 a.m. Tuesday. Female competitors will run a zigzag course, carrying a skillet
. The pancake must be flipped at the starting line and at the finish.
The women of Liberal have won the last six races.
A three-day celebration leading up to the big contest began Saturday, with pancake-eating contests, flapjack-flipping competitions and other activities.
I was not aware that pancakes were so dangerous and this article tittled The Pain of Pancake Day relates:
Around 250 people will end up in hospital today after cooking pancakes during Shrove Tuesday celebrations, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents reveals.
More than 200 of those will be children who suffer burns from hot frying pans.
Well you still have time to get e-shriven today through e-fession.