Today JAP would like to show you more about Polish customs connected to the last days of the carnival – “Fat Thursday” (“Tłusty czwartek”) and Slavic carnival (in Polish it’s “Śledzik” – “small herring”). Both of them are moveable feasts.

We celebrate Fat Thursday always 52 days before Easter. That’s the first day of the last week before Lent. This year it will be on the 11th of February. This day according to Polish tradition everyone should try doughnuts (pączki) or angel wings (chrust). It guarantees happiness. 

This holiday is known in Poland since Pagan times. Pagan ancestors of Poles this time celebrated the end of the winter and the start of the spring. They organized feats with fat dishes and vine. They ate doughnuts as well (angel wings are not so popular and associated with many Poles with this holiday) but they looked different from today. People stuffed them with bacon and lard, not with jam. It changed only in the 16th century when doughnuts with jam came to Europe from the Arabic world.

Pączki

Doughnuts are very popular to this day. We eat every year 100 million doughnuts at Fat Thursday.

Chrust (or “faworki”) is a kind of sweet crisps with powdered sugar. They are fried in fat like doughnuts.

faworki, chrusty

Fat Thursday is the first day of the Slavic carnival which finishes on Tuesday which is called in Polish tradition “śledzik” or “ostatki” (because it’s the last day). That’s the time of big parties and feasts in Poland. Why herring? Because a traditional snack after the vodka shot is pickled herring. The next day is Ash Wednesday which means the start of Lent and waiting for Easter. Lent is the time of temperance when this kind of debauchery is not recommended.

For many of us, this year is difficult, but we think that even during this hard time we shouldn’t give up small pleasures like doughnuts. Remember that not eating doughnuts on Fat Thursday gives bad luck. So…. good appetite!

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