Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Happy Paczki Day!

If you are a resident of the state of Michigan, that generally traslates into a huge Polish festival the day before Lent begins. Listening to the radio this morning, the bars in Hamtramck, MI opened at 7AM and some businesses actually took the day off so people could all the more enjoy the excesses of the day. Lots and lots of polish sausage and paczki.

Or if you grew up in my house, it means paczki (jelly filled glazed donuts) for breakfast and then coming home in the evening to enjoy a full Polish dinner, followed by something like nalesniki (crepes or rolled creme or fruit filled pancakes) and cakes for desert.

From the way I look at it - it is the Polish version of St. Patrick's Day - except you wear red instead of green. And listen and dance to polkas instead of limericks and ballads.

About the Lenten Fast ->

Back before the Catholic church switched to the kiddy fast (give up favorite things for lent, abstain from meat on Fridays), adults age 21 and older were expected to adhere to the Lenten fast. This means they are only permitted three meals a day. Two of the meals had to be very small and meatless. Together could not equal a main meal. The main meal on the other hand could contain meat.

The way I understand that - a main meal is calculated as more than one item or serving. It doesn't necessarily mean you could cheat and have a feast for supper every night, and two regular supper sized meals during the day.

A sample day would be something like:

Breakfast - Bowl of cereal or scrambled eggs.
Lunch - Meatless sandwich (grilled cheese or fish sandwich).
Supper - Regular meal (main dish, side dishes, salad). Followed by desert, if you wish.

Kids under the age of 21 merely were expected to follow the 'meat once a day' part of the fast, except for Fridays (kids 7 and older were expected to abstain from all meat on Fridays). They could still eat as much as they want throughout the day.

<- That, btw, was the moderate fast. Back in the early days of the church, fasting would be a lot more strenuous and food-deprived.

On the day before Ash Wednesday (the official start of Lent), people would have festivals to clear out the pantry and 'fatten up' before the 40 days of denial began.

St. Patrick's Day lands right in the middle of Lent and many (at least here in the US) regard the day as mid-lenten break. There was a special dispensation given for just that day, so people could put aside the fast and feast as much as they wanted.

Anyway!

I'm posting this, because instead of writing topics, my mind is on the fast ahead and I'm already planning out my battle plan. <- I'm an old-fashioned type of Catholic, so we adhere to all of the old fasts and rules of abstinence. I've done the fast for several years now, but it doesn't get any easier.

The funny or stupid thing is I don't normally eat three meals a day. I generally have something light for lunch (bagel and coffee for example) and then just supper in the evening. So 1.5 meals?

But it is human nature to suddenly WANT something the instant it is forbidden. In other words, the selections in the vending machine suddenly start to look yummy throughout the day.

The other problem is 'accidents'.

Accidently eating something - even swallowing gum! - in the middle of that would count as one of your three meals.

If you are enjoying paczki today... or if you are enjoying the other ethnic varieties of Fat Tuesday. Have fun!

I'll get back to thinking about writing tomorrow. :]

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