Writing into the Light…

Finding my way with words…

Tuesday By Any Other Name…


Depending on where you spent Tuesday, February 21, 2012 it was either Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Carnival, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, Fasnacht Day or Kinkling Day.  If you celebrated any of these days heartily you are most likely spending Wednesday, February 22, 2012 in a carb and grease coma!  This day has been celebrated since the middle ages as a time to confess our sins and to clear the pantry of lard, sugar, butter and fat before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.  Lent can then begin with a clear conscience and an attitude of sacrifice.

Basel, Switzerland has an annual Fasnacht Festival.  The 19th century immigrants settling in the Mid-Atlantic States in America became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch in the area of Lancaster County, PA.  They brought to America their recipes for fasnachts, donuts made with potato based dough and cut into square or rectangular shapes.  They are either uncoated or coated with table sugar or powdered sugar.  Fasnachts are synonymous with Carnival in Germany, Switzerland, Alsace and Austria.

A long-time friend and former co-worker grew up in this area of Pennsylvania.  Karen used to spoil our team and bring us fasnachts on Fat Tuesday each year.  They were wonderful and have left an imprint that will cause me to celebrate her salivate like one of Pavlov’s dogs automatically on Fat Tuesday.  Each year going forward I celebrate (and will continue to celebrate) Karen’s culinary skills and friendship.  Thank you Karen for all of those gastronomically delightful Tuesday mornings!!

In the state of Maryland, especially in the area of Frederick, you would find Kinklings on Fat Tuesday.  They are, in essence, identical to fasnachts.  Fasnachts have some other relatives.

Paczki  is a Polish cousin of the fasnacht.  They are traditional round donuts (no hole) made with yeast dough and filled with either fruit jelly or crème.  They are often covered with powdered sugar.

On Fat Tuesday in America we always think of Mardi Gras.  Mardi Gras brings forth images of the King Cake.  King Cake originated in the middle ages as an oval shaped braided cake decorated with cinnamon sugar in the official Mardi Gras colors of gold (for power), green (for faith) and purple (for justice).  In medieval times there would be a coin hidden in the cake.  Today, it is a small plastic baby, the person who gets the slice of cake with the baby must host the next party and may be crowned King or Queen of the Mardi Gras party.  King Cake, although associated with Shrove Tuesday, traditionally was eaten between the Twelfth Night (after Christmas) until Fat Tuesday.

In the United Kingdom, Tuesday was referred to as Pancake Day including games and races involving airborne flapjacks.

The French celebration involved a large meal including crepes and waffles.

In Northern Sweden they were most likely dining on a meat stew.

In Southern Sweden there are Shrove Tuesday buns called semlor.  These buns are filled with an almond paste and whipped cream.

Finland they dined on pea soup with a blini (a rich pancake) served with caviar and Smetana (sour cream).

What did you eat today that you will be wearing on your thighs throughout Lent?


Author: Carol R Craley

I am a former Philadelphia suburbanite who moved to Maine in 2002 ~ a former art educator ~ former school administrator ~former college and graduate school instructor ~ a writer ~an artist ~ and a photographer. I am currently mom to two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels named Emma and Sara and a rescued kitty from Georgia ~ so that is her name. I am inspired by nature, great music, art and writing that makes me ponder the world...

9 thoughts on “Tuesday By Any Other Name…

  1. Every Fasnacht Day in college, the cafeteria set up a fasnacht station with a wide array of icings and toppings. Boy do I miss those days. No special treats here…except for that slice of cheesecake Sean brought home from work!

  2. What a wonderful friend, your Karen, to share the taste of fasnachts on Fat Tuesday. Sounds like you worked with a great team who brought fun into the days.

  3. We had pancakes for dinner, Carol (mine had chocolate chips in them!). Then we had donuts for dessert. Rich’s German family always had Fasnachts but had to offer up chocolate covered and glazed donuts, along with jelly-filled ones. Yummy!

    • Wow! You hit traditions from 2 areas of the world. I was able to find Paczki in my local grocery which they “import” from Michigan. Not bad for a geographic area known for its’ French influence.

  4. Carol, this was very interesting. I was not raised in any religious or cultural tradition that marked the season of Lent. I never knew what “Fat Tuesday” was and always thought it sounded rather repellent. Now it sounds pretty delicious! Thanks for educating me. 🙂

    • I actually was not either Leon, but my brothers and I were the only “publics” (non-Catholics) in the neighborhood. So I was well educated in the ways of Lent and other Catholic traditions. Thanks to my friend Karen my education began to expand to other traditions. Besides, my nose can always sniff out a celebration that involves carbs and sugar!!

  5. For dinner on Fat Tuesday I had a big bag of Cheetos, 2 Reese’s peanut butter Easter eggs, and for desert I munched on chocolate chip cookies all night long. Almost ushered in the solemnity of Ash Wednesday by barfing all over the place.

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