Date When Celebrated : date varies
In Poland: Celebrated on Fat Thursday, the Thursday before Ash Wednesday.
In the United States: Celebrated on Fat Tuesday, the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.
Paczki were created in the Middle Ages, when the King of Poland brought French chefs into his castle to make pastries for Shrove Week. Shrove Week began on Fat Thursday, the Thursday before Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. The week ended on Fat Tuesday, the Day before Ash Wednesday. This super sweet treat became instantly popular in Poland, and it almost immediately became a tradition to eat Paczki on Fat Thursday in Pol\and. Fat Thursday soon became also known as Paczki Day.
Don't Call it a Donut!
On the outside, the visual appearance of Paczki looks very much like a donut. It is fried in oil, like a donut. However, don't mistake it for a donut. Paczki are made from dough with richer, somewhat different ingredients, containing more sugar and eggs. It also has a little grain alcohol, which keeps the oil from penetrating deeply into the dough. This gives Paczki a fluffier composition. Properly made, it is also larger and rounder than a donut. In the Middle Ages, Paczki was first filled with pork fat. It didn't take long for bakeries and common folk in the Middle Ages to begin using sweet fillings, including prunes, apricot, raspberry, lemon and custard. Over a few hundred years, many other sweet fillings were used. Today, there is even gluten free Paczki. The finished product is either glazed on the outside, or dusted or rolled in powdered sugar.
Did You Know? Paczki is the plural form of the word. The singular form is "paczek". If you ever see it spelled as "Paczkis", it is incorrect!
Celebration and History
In the Middle Ages, it was popular for Christians to empty their cupboards of lard, sugar, eggs, fruit, and other sweets in the week prior to Ash Wednesday. Beginning on Fat Thursday, they would have a feast on these leftovers, before the fasting season of Lent began. Paczki was one wonderfully sweet way to use up some of these supplies. On this day, people did not eat just one paczek. They ate several Paczki.
In Poland, Paczki Day has always traditionally been celebrated on Fat Thursday. As Polish pilgrims came to America, they brought Paczki and the tradition of Paczki Day with them. Somewhere along the way, for some unknown reason, Paczki Day began to be celebrated on Fat Tuesday.
If you've never had Paczki, today is your once a year chance to enjoy them. You'll most likely need to go to a Polish bakery and stand in a cheerful line of patrons, waiting patiently for their chance to select among several or more fillings. You may find a few other stores that sell Paczki, but you'll miss the pleasant experience at your local Polish bakery.
For the diet conscious - Not to put a damper on your enjoyment of this day, but a single paczek is loaded with calorie and carbs. Our study found it has 329-480 calories and 49-55 carbs. After consuming them, it might be best to head straight for the gym!
If you are going to participate in Paczki Day, make sure to pronounce it correctly. It sounds like "Punch-Kee".
Paczki are properly consumed just one day of the year, on Paczki Day. To properly make them, bakeries prepare them fresh on Paczki Day. Most bakeries follow this practice. It results in long lines at the bakery. When the bakery runs out, they're out until Paczki Day next year.
Did You Know? The largest Paczki Day celebration is held in Buffalo, NY., complete with a parade.
Origin of Paczki Day:
We know a lot about Paczki and its origin. However, very little is know about the creation of Paczki Day.
We do know that Paczki Day in Poland started out in the Middle Ages and was celebrated on Fat Thursday. Fat Thursday probably became known as Paczki Day, as it sounds so much better than Fat Thursday.
It is a mystery why the United States celebrates it on Fat Tuesday.
Other Polish Holidays:
Flower of the Day: Easter Lily
Recipe of the Day: Buffalo Chicken Wing Dip
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