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Fastnacht Day

Whether you call it Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Fat Tuesday, or Fastnacht Day – tomorrow is the day before the Lent starts and it is a day that’s celebrated in different ways across the globe.

In the UK, pancake races form an important part of the Shrove Tuesday celebrations – an opportunity for large numbers of people, often in fancy dress, to race down streets tossing pancakes.

In Germany, people are donning costumes and celebrating in the streets and at lavish balls for one last day of “Karneval” or “Fasching.” In Rio de Janeiro, by shrove Tuesday, partiers dressed in feathers and sequins will have been dancing and parading in the streets for their 6th straight day. And in New Orleans, bead wearing revelers are downing Beignets and King Cake.

Here is Pennsylvania, the merriment isn’t as intense, but we do have Fastnacht Day. Fastnacht can also be spelled in various ways, such as “fasnacht”, “fassenacht,” or “faschnacht.” In German, the word “fastnacht” means “the night before the fast,” since the doughnuts are eaten the night before Lent, when fasting is usually observed by many Christians until Easter Sunday. Making and eating fastnachts was a way to consume all the rich food kept in your house pantry, such as butter, lard, eggs, and sugar, since these ingredients were seen as lavish and were not supposed to be eaten during the Lenten season.

You may want to try to make your own. There are various recipes out there – some even call for mashed potatoes as an ingrediant. But just about every grocery store and bakery in south central Pennsylvania will be selling them. So come on; what are you waiting for? Keep this Central Pennsylvania tradition going and have a fastnacht tomorrow!