Shrovetide covers the last three or four days before the beginning of Lent. The old names for these days were:
- Egg Saturday - Shrove Saturday
- Quinquagesima Sunday - Shrove Sunday
The fiftieth day before Easter
- Collop Monday - Shrove Monday
Named after the traditional dish of the day: collops of bacon served with eggs. (A collop is chunk or slice of meat or fat)
In addition to providing meat, the collops were also the source of the fat for the following day's pancakes.
- Pancake Day - Shrove Tuesday
The day on which all fats and cream had to be used up.
When Lent was observed more rigorously than it is now, Shrovetide was celebrated with games, sports, dancing and other revelries. There were feasts to use up the food that could not be eaten during the Lenten fast. Football was played in the streets and Nickanan Night (as Shrove Monday evening was called in Cornwall) was a time for boys to run riot in the villages: hiding gates, taking off door knockers, and making off with anything that householders had forgotten to lock away.
Each year on Shrove Tuesday and Ash Wednesday in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, one of the world's oldest, largest, longest and maddest football games takes place. The two teams consist of around a hundred players, and the playing field is 3 miles long, 2 miles wide and has the town of Ashbourne in the middle!