Did you know there are actually two "paczki days"?
You may know the tradition of eating rich foods on Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday in French), as a sendoff before the Catholic Lenten fast begins on Ash Wednesday, which falls next Wednesday, Feb. 13.
France, Brazil, New Orleans, Italy and most places with a Mardi Gras tradition hold their festivities prior to, or culminating on, Fat Tuesday, which falls Feb. 12 this year.
However, the Polish custom is to feast the Thursday before Ash Wednesday--called Fat Thursday by Poles.
When asked to explain the difference between Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday, Ola Makal, a salesperson at Oak Mill Bakery in neighboring Niles, said, "Fat Thursday is typically Polish. We celebrate Thursday. Fat Tuesday is usually celebrated by Americans."
She was expecting more Poles in the shop on Fat Thursday, when Poles eat the delectable desserts.
In Poland, people traditionally made paczki for Fat Thursday to use up the eggs, lard and sugar in the house, because they were traditionally not eaten during Lent, according to the Polish American Association. Fat Thursday "is the last chance to party before Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins," the association says on it website.
Oak Mill Bakery will be selling paczki today (Thursday) from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. to benefit the Polish American Association, a non-profit organization which provides social services.
Places to buy paczki today and next Tuesday:
- Oak Mill Bakery, 8012 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Niles
- 9328 N. Waukegan Road, Morton Grove
- House of Cakes, 6189 N. Canfield, Chicago (across street from Park Ridge)