Today, in case the less religious amongst you doesn't know, is Shrove Tuesday. Also known as Pancake Tuesday or Pancake Day in the UK; Mardi Gras in New Orleans and most of South America; Fasching, Fastnacht or Karneval in Germany. Basically, it's the last day before Lent, the last day you can really party and eat up before setting down to 40 days of fasting. The reason for the pancakes is to use up all your eggs, one of the foods traditionally avoided during Lent. The Germans don't have pancakes, they eat Krapfen, which are basically jelly doughnuts. The Germans also have Krapfen on offer for several weeks to months before Shrove Tuesday, which can be a killer if you have a sweet tooth and are trying to watch your weight.
Other than making pancakes and there usually being a pancake race in some towns, nothing really happens in the UK for this day. On the other hand, in Germany people dress up in costumes (fancy-dress for the Brits) and in parts of the country it's an official holiday. Cologne and Mannheim, to name two of the more famous places. In Munich, it is sort of a semi-holiday. Lots of businesses and shops close for the day, or close at noon, but many others stay open. It's simply a matter of chance, as far as I can tell. Along with eating up their eggs in the Krapfen, the Germans also like to do a fair amount of drinking at Fasching. I have many memories, some strong, some very vague, of partying and drinking from around noon until late at the Viktualienmarkt in Munich. Really, considering the enormity of the hangovers, the Wednesday after should be the holiday, not the Tuesday.
We combined a bit of both German and British culture for Shrove Tuesday. We had the pancakes, in the form of crêpes. And we had the alcohol, in the form of a healthy dose of Grand Marnier in the Crêpes Suzette sauce. Lena just had scrambled eggs, no Grand Marnier. Just in case you were worried.