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Fasnacht Day – February 21, 2023

Fasnacht Day is a holiday that we celebrate on the Tuesday in the seventh week before Easter and this year, it falls on February 21. It originated in Germany and is a Pennsylvanian Dutch celebration held a day before Ash Wednesday. As a tradition, Germans indulge in delicious doughnut pastries before the Lenten fast, a period of fasting observed by Catholics and Protestants. This practice gave rise to the name Fasnacht, which means “The night before Lent begins.” These pastries are prepared in three different ways. Although they are similar to regular doughnuts, their preparation method makes them less sweet. Fasnacht can also be spelled in many ways, including ‘Fastnacht,’ ‘Fassenacht,’ and ‘Faschnacht.’ Are you ready to celebrate this yummy holiday?

History of Fasnacht Day

Although Fasnacht Day has unclear origins, the earliest records of the celebration stem from the 1200s. It is said that the festival originated in Mainz and Speyer, Germany. The celebration began not only as a feast for the pre-Lenten season but as a parody of daily life activities, like giving women the opportunity to rule. Fasnacht Day is a deep-rooted German tradition celebrated on the Tuesday before Lent begins. So, before the start of Lent, Germans would use up ingredients like butter, sugar, and lard to make Fastnacht as they would soon forfeit these foods during Lent.

As time went on, preparing Fasnacht changed from using potatoes to using baking powder or yeast. The pastry resembles a doughnut without a hole in the middle and is often shaped into squares. The traditional way to eat this pastry is by slicing it in half, spreading butter on one half, and topping it off with maple syrup to be consumed as a sandwich. These delectable treats can be eaten plain or covered in a glaze, cinnamon, or even powdered sugar, according to the preference of their consumer.

Fasnacht Day depends on the day of Easter and Ash Wednesday. The celebrations also vary annually due to the Spring Equinox. And while this treat originates in Germany, it is now a popular part of the Pennsylvania Dutch culture. All we know is it makes our mouths water! What about yours?

Fasnacht Day timeline

1200s
Origin

The Fasnacht Day celebration originates in Germany.

1520s
Carnival of Basel

The Carnival of Basel, also known as the Fasnacht Carnival, is one of the biggest European festivals celebrated in Switzerland.

1699
The First American Mardi Gras

The Fasnacht celebration finds its way to New Orleans, U.S, courtesy of French explorers Pierre Le Moyne D’Iberville and Sieur de Bienville.

1800s
Easterside in Pennsylvania

Details of the Fasnacht celebration are included in the book “Easterside in Pennsylvania” by Dr. Alfred Shoemaker.

1901
Organization of Fasnacht

The Fasnacht Committee is established to address all questions and concerns regarding Fasnacht Day.

Fasnacht Day FAQs

What does Fasnacht Day represent?

It represents an entire season of festivities leading up to Shrove Tuesday.

What is the Fasnacht Parade?

It is another name for the Carnival of Basel, the biggest carnival in Switzerland.

What other names does Fasnacht Day go by?

Fasnacht Day is also known as Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras, or Shrove Tuesday.

Fasnacht Day Activities

  1. Celebrate Fastnacht using recipes online

    Is there anything better than homemade treats? Many websites have a list of recipes you can follow to make Fasnacht at home on Fasnacht Day.

  2. Treat yourself from a local bakery

    You do not have to be an expert in making pastries to enjoy Fasnacht Day. Head on over to a local bakery and treat yourself to a couple of Fasnachts on Fasnacht Day.

  3. Share pictures and use hashtags

    You can participate in the Fasnacht Day celebrations by sharing pictures of the pastry on social media. Use hashtags such as #HappyFasnachtDay.

5 Interesting Facts About Fastnachts

  1. Fastnachts are affordable

    Fastnacht doughnuts are very affordable and are sold for as low as $5 for half a dozen.

  2. Fat Tuesday

    Fasnacht Day is also known as “Fat Tuesday,” as Germans consider it a day to pig out before Lent begins.

  3. Original Recipe

    The original Fastnacht pastry is a potato-based fluffy pastry deep-fried in lard.

  4. Not all Fastnachts are squares

    Fastnacht doughnuts come in various shapes and sizes, including round and triangular ones.

  5. Fasting night

    The word ‘Fasnacht’ can be directly translated to ‘Fasting Night.’

Why We Love Fasnacht Day

  1. Everyone loves doughnuts

    We haven’t met a person who doesn’t like doughnuts. They come with various toppings and, Fastnachts are no exception.

  2. It’s a day of indulgence

    Everyone also loves a good cheat day. And although daily consumption of doughnuts is not healthy, Fasnacht Day allows for one day of indulgence.

  3. It preserves tradition

    It is so important for us to pass on traditions to future generations. Fasnacht Day is a German tradition, and its annual celebration helps keep that tradition alive.

Fasnacht Day dates

YearDateDay
2022March 1Tuesday
2023February 21Tuesday
2024February 13Tuesday
2025March 4Tuesday
2026February 17Tuesday

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