Paczki Day, celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday, is the perfect excuse (as if we needed one) to eat the famous and delicious Polish pastry. Similar to a donut, Paczki are a sugary pastry that combines glossy doughs with a delicious fruit filling. They’re known as a dessert that gets more-or-less splurged around lent, but Paczki Day isn’t just about the pastries alone. Let’s learn what makes this day so special.
History of Paczki Day
To most Polish Americans, Paczki Day means making a ton of Paczki and binge-eating them in the company of family and friends. This day is celebrated before Lent. Since Lent is a time of sacrifice, Paczki were created to use up a household’s supplies of things that the family wouldn’t be able to eat during Lenten fasting. This included lard, sugar, eggs, and more. It was basically a day for people to fill up on all the goodness they’d have to give up for the next month.
In America, Paczki Day is celebrated the day before Ash Wednesday (also known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras). However, in Poland Paczki were made and purchased the most on Fat Thursday, which is Thursday before Ash Wednesday. Paczki Day is also celebrated on Fat Thursday in some cultures because it marks the start of the final week before Lent. But either way, a lot of Paczki are made and enjoyed by many Polish people on either day.
This tradition is unique since it dates back to at least the Middle Ages. That means Paczki recipes have been around for a long time. But, just like traditions themselves, the recipes have evolved as time has gone on. Modern versions of paczki are filled with custard or cream, and some are even covered with glaze or sprinkles. Some well-known modern flavors include lemon, Nutella, and strawberry.