Today is Shrove Tuesday--so-called because it used to be the day when everyone went to be "shriven," or to make their confession, before the holy day of Ash Wednesday, and the beginning of Lent. It's also called "Fat Tuesday," or "Mardi Gras," because of the tradition of getting rid of all of the fat and meat in the house before the lenten fast. Folks used up all their fat or lard by making pancakes or other rich sweets.
Today is traditionally a day of final celebrations and "whooping it up" before Lent, hence the massive Mardi Gras festivals and parades in New Orleans and other heavily-Catholic areas.
How will we be celebrating Mardi Gras? By eating pancakes, of course! IHOP has free pancakes all day today, so make sure to head out and enjoy!
But, don't forget that Ash Wednesday comes tomorrow, when all the confetti is swept up, and we begin again our journey toward the cross, and eventually the empty tomb. Today is but a brief and temporal reminder of the eternal and heavenly festival that will take place when we all gather together in God's Kingdom.
Happy Mardi Gras!