Tłusty Czwartek (Fat Thursday)
Mardi Gras, Carnival, Maslenitsa, whatever the name, the Christian feast allows for a little gluttonous indulgence before the fasting of Lent. Every country has their own way of celebrating, and Poland, being heavily Catholic, is no exception. Enter Tłusty Czwartek, or Fat Thursday. Polish tradition dictates that on the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday, you stuff yourself as full as possible with Paczki, fried dough treats about the size of a fist, filled with flavored jelly and covered with glaze (they look a lot like a rounder version of the American jelly donut).
Now, I really haven't seen a good explanation as why this is on the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday as opposed to the night before (ala Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday). Other than maybe you get to stuff yourself full on Thursday and then again on Tuesday? Nonetheless, on Thursday the bakeries all had lines around the block as the Poles, along with us, stood in line for fresh paczki filled with the traditional rose-flavored jelly. Reportedly, the average Pole consumes three paczki on Tłusty Czwartek, which means that close to 100 million paczki get eaten that day. The Mrs. and I did our part, she had one paczek, and I had five, averaging out to three each. They're great, although I haven't wanted to even look at another paczki since.