Today in Poland: Fat Thursday

Ok, both in Poland and Estonia there is Thursday already. What is so special about Thursday? This exact Thursday is called “Tłusty Czwartek” which can be translated as “Fat Thursday”. That’s not something that has been introduced yesterday – it’s a long lasting Polish custom and it has its special meaning.

Fat Thursday is a tradition celebrated for many, many years. I am not sure where did this tradition come from, but I like it (and yes, I already said I am a sweet tooth). I still remember my grandma or mom frying deep oiled doughnuts (or donuts as you prefer) the day before and then – everyone eating them like they never ate anything else in their lives.

Why Fat Thursday and why today?

So the whole celebration time is precisely set. The carnival time is slowly over and catholics will go into the fasting time that will last till Easter. But before – everything is allowed. I don’t really know why Thursday has been chosen for the eating day, but it’s always the last Thursday before so-called “Ash Wednesday” (this year – it’s on 10th of February) which is a catholic event that start the fasting.

Fat Thursday’s name is connected with a tradition getting hundreds of years back: doughnuts fried years ago were filled in with meat, bacon or pork fat meat (yeah, sounds disgusting and probably is). First doughnuts were also served in bread dough and were heavier than the ones we have now.

Current sweet treats

The main ones are of course the doughnuts. Here in Estonia I have seen a lot of bakeries with doughnuts though they are not the same as the one served in Poland. Polish ones are round, without the hole in the middle. Inside, there is a sweet filling (usually – jam or cream). They can be served with sugar, powder sugar, icing, chocolate or orange skin on top. And they look more or less like that:

paczki-z-jagodami-z1

Polish doughnuts (pączki) – picture from Ciasta.net

Btw – doughnuts with hole also exist and they are popular. They are called “obwarzanki” or “obarzanki” though. For me they taste like pączki :)

The other ones are called “faworki” or “chrust” and the translation I found is “Angel wings” (I learn new things every day, did not even now that there is a translation for that). They are different, much more crispy and made from cream dough. Usually, after they are fried they are covered in powder sugar. Their shape is as here below:

faworki2

Faworki – picture from mniamusne.blox.pl

Of course, on Fat Thursday any kind of cakes and chocolates are more than welcome. Even people who are on diet skip this one day and eat at least one doughnut. Yes, the tradition lives for everyone.

At work and at home

In the companies, there is a tradition that your employer buys doughnuts for all the employees (of course not everywhere, but in most Polish companies it is like that). This way Poles are happy and foreign employees surprised ;) Of course, if you have a family it’s more than sure that your mother, father, spouse, children etc. would fry or bring you some doughnuts home when they’re back from work or school.

What are the reasons for the fact that we will keep this tradition?

  1. Common beliefs say that if you don’t eat a doughnut on Fat Thursday, you will be unlucky till the rest of your life (harsh, isn’t it?).
  2. We like traditions and we celebrate them often.
  3. Doughnuts, Angel Wings etc. are simply delicious so why shall we stop? :)

That is why my colleagues in the office will get some sweets from me tomorrow, but shhh… don’t tell them!

 

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