Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday, is the traditional feast day before the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Lent – the 40 days leading up to Easter – was traditionally a time of fasting and on Shrove Tuesday, Anglo-Saxon Christians went to confession and were "shriven" (absolved from their sins).
The name Shrove Tuesday comes from 'shrive', meaning absolution for sins by doing penance. The day gets its name from the tradition of Christians trying to be 'shriven' before Lent. Pancake Day itself came much later as a way of using up rich foods, like eggs, milk and sugar before the 40 days of fasting for Lent.