The English term "shrovetide" (from "to shrive", or hear confessions) is 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]".
Different cultures have various food related traditions on this day. Many churches have pancake suppers or make and sell donuts. This is in preparation for a Lent where the use of dairy, eggs and fat were forbidden.
Today, sadly, the day before Ash Wednesday has become yet another excuse for extreme self indulgent behavior on the part of many.
At any rate, having pancakes or donuts today is a wonderful tradition that can be especially anticipated by children and breakfast-enjoyers alike!