“What?” I hear you ask, which is exactly what Bob asked when he was leaving the office one day last week, and his secretary asked him, “Are we going to get fasnachts for Fasnacht Tuesday?” Or, I think, maybe he said, “What’s that?” After she laughed, and said, “I had a feeling you wouldn’t know,” she went on to explain that in preparation for Lent, we had to eat up all our fat, so everyone makes fasnachts. The church usually provides fasnachts and coffee from 7:00 – 11:00 a.m. for anyone from the congregation who wants to stop by.
Wait a minute. Isn’t that called “Fat Tuesday?” Or “Mardi Gras?” Or maybe even “Pancake Tuesday?” Well, no. Welcome to Pennsylvania Dutch Territory where you might as well be living in a foreign country as far as being the least bit familiar with customs is concerned. A fasnacht (for those of you who don’t live here or in
Now this is interesting. I grew up with the English tradition of making pancakes to eat up all the fat on Shrove Tuesday. I absolutely loved this special occasion when we got to eat pancakes for dinner (that is, when my mother remembered, which wasn’t always easy living, as we were, surrounded by some-very-scary little Independent Southern Baptist congregations, whom I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to discover declare Lent to be a pagan season. We remembered when I was in high school, though, because my Catholic high school always held a fund-raising pancake dinner.) Now I’m living in a place in which doughnuts are the required food of the day.
Don’t you just love our very clever ancestors who devised all these customs? Let’s see, we’re about to go into a season of fasting, so let’s have this fantastic day in which it’s absolutely okay to gorge yourself on fat till your little heart’s content, and nobody will look at you askance (although, for some of us, that might mean our little heart stops beating before Lent has run its course). Well, who am I to argue with tradition? After all, I’ve got all that English blood racing through my veins, but I’ve also got some German blood trying to stake out its claim in those tiny little tubes. Doughnuts for breakfast and pancakes for dinner? How can the day HELP but be anything other than happy? I’ll let you know when I lose the ten pounds I surely must have gained today.