February 16, 2023
Fat Thursday takes place on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday in February, right before the 40-day period of Lent, and will be celebrated on February 16 this year. And yes, it’s exactly what you may be thinking — it’s a time to indulge. As the lean season of Lent draws near, food becomes central to many peoples’ thoughts. There’s nothing like a fast to get us all thinking about food; especially those forbidden treats loaded with calorific goodness. If donuts were the first thing that came to mind, then you’re right on track because this holiday, originating in Poland, is about stuffing your face with Polish donuts, known as ‘pączki’, and a few other exotically named sweet treats.
HISTORY OF FAT THURSDAY
Though the exact origin of how this holiday came to be founded is unknown, the Polish tradition of consuming donuts is very much known, and dates as far back as the 1500s. On the religious side of things, Fat Thursday is the last hurrah before the fasting period of Lent, wherein devout Catholics give up many indulgences in the 40 days leading up to Easter. Traditionally, Catholics will not eat meat or consume alcohol during this period, as the idea is to give up things that one loves, in order to focus on the meaning of Easter.
Fat Thursday is known as ‘Tłusty Czwartek’ in Poland and for those who are in doubt, the ‘fat’ part of the name refers to the fried sugary goodness of the different types of ‘pączki’ (pronounced poonch-key) consumed by Poles all over the country. The most traditional form of ‘pączki’ is a light, fluffy donut filled with rosehip jam and dusted with powdered sugar. However, there are many variations now, when it comes to the filling. Essentially, this day serves a dual purpose, as it allows Poles to indulge guilt-free in their favorite confectionery, while also carrying a religious meaning. Some even refer to the day as International Polish Donut Day, and the average Pole will eat around 2-3 donuts on this day, which translates to about 1050 calories (if you’re counting, but we’re not)! If the thought of consuming so many donuts scares you, the recommendation is to eat at least one, because not eating a donut on this day means bad luck for the rest of the year, according to Polish tradition.
Another traditional Polish dessert that is extremely popular on this day is ‘faworki’, in some places, also known as Angel Wings. ‘Faworki’ are thin dough ribbons, fried until crispy and sprinkled with powdered sugar.