SHROVE TUESDAY, the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, so called as the day on which " shrift " or confession was made in preparation for the great fast. Skeat (Etym. Diet.) derives the word " shrive," of which " shrove " is the past tense, ultimately from the Lat. scribere, to write, to draw up a law, and hence to prescribe (cf. Ger. schreiberi), through the Anglo-Saxon scrifan, to shrive, impose a penance, to judge. Shrove Tuesday is called the French Mardi gras, " Fat Tuesday," in allusion to the fat ox which is ceremoniously paraded through the streets. The Germans know it as Fastendienstag. It is celebrated in Catholic countries, as the last day of the carnival, with feasting and merrymaking, of which, in England, the eating of pancakes alone survives as a social custom, the day having been called at one time " Pancake Tuesday." The association of pancakes with the day was probably due to the necessity for using up all the eggs, grease, lard and dripping in stock preparatory to Lent, during which all these were forbidden.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)