Or Shrove Tuesday ("shrove" comes from the old English "shrive", which has to do with confession of sins and asking of absolution), Pancake Day (based on an old pagan holiday where pancakes symbolized the sun, and the object of eating pancakes was to help the gods to usher in spring) or Mardi Gras (a belief in drinking and partying until you wake up with a killer headache and no memory of the previous three days)(but technically the name for the day spent eating the fatty, rich foods one is giving up for Lent).
As a Catholic university, we lean towards the "Shrove Tuesday" definition (at least officially - the students may have a different perspective). We have a long tradition in our office of...food. Every quarter or so we have a donut day for the entire department, held alternately in our building or a couple of blocks away, where the student services section contingent works. It seemed a natural to have this quarter's mixer on Fat Tuesday.
In Milwaukee, in addition to other places around the country with a larger Polish immigrant population, there is an additional sweet incentive for the day: paczki. The link will provide an explanation along with a mouth-watering picture. I'm not much for filled doughnuts, nor for things covered in powdered sugar (I've been to New Orleans twice, soon to be three times, and have yet to have a beignet), but for these, I'll make an exception.
If you take a look at the recipe at the end of the link, you'll see why paczki are a fitting treat for Fat Tuesday: the dough, with 20 egg yolks for four dozen doughnuts, is incredibly rich. The two traditional fillings are prune (actually quite tasty) and raspberry, but I see that Grebe's is offering a new flavor for the year that includes...bacon.
Whether your town offers true paczki, a smorgasbord of pancakes, hurricanes or a simple jelly filled doughnut, have a sweet treat today; Lent begins tomorrow.