The last week before Lent is a festive and joyful time in many, at least traditionally, Catholic countries. Some dance in the streets, others organize parties, but we in Poland make it simple: we eat pączki, lots of them, and we do it on Thursday.
Although some traces of this tradition can be tracked in ancient, pagan times, proper Fat Thursday has been celebrated in Poland and Catholic parts of Germany since 17th Century in cities and 19th Century in the country. It does not come as a surprise that the idea behind the holiday is get one’s belly prepared for the coming season of fat and sugar deprivation in the form of a 40 day Lent before Easter.
The unquestionable hero of the day is PĄCZEK – a fist-sized doughnut, without a hole. Since traditionally it was the last chance to eat meat before Easter, doughnuts used to be much heavier and filled with lard, bacon or other kind of meat. But times have changed and the doughnut evolved, becoming much sweeter. Today, a frosted, rose petal jam filled ball of imminent atherosclerosis is considered a classic. However, it is not illegal to change the taste of the jam or substitute frosting with powdered sugar or glazing.
There are also other pretenders in the sweet race, namely angel wings that we call FAWORKI. These are thin twisted ribbons, fried in the same way as doughnuts, with powdered sugar on them. They are still going strong, even though they might be losing popularity in the recent years.
The way to celebrate Fat Thursday is as straightforward as it gets. You buy or fry your own doughnuts, share them with family, friends and co-workers, and then you eat. And you eat a couple more. And the last one. And then the ‘it’s-really-the-final-one’, and that is it. Doughnut consumption on that day is estimated to 100 000 000 countrywide. This means over 3 doughnuts per person, including babies. Let the numbers speak for themselves and be the best invitation for you to join us in celebrating this carefree feast.