Tuesday, February 05, 2008
It's Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Carnival in Trinidad and Rio de Janiero, Pancake Day in the UK. In Pennsylvania Dutch country it's Shrove Tuesday or Fausnacht Day. First, a definition or two...
Shrove is the past tense of the verb 'to shrive,' meaning to gain absolution for sins through confession and penance. This is all part of the preparation for forty days of self-denial during Lent and leading up to Holy Week and Easter. Part of the Lenten observances is to rid the house of fats and yeast. Fausnachts, yeast raised, square doughnuts made with mashed potatoes, (alternately spelled fastnacht or fasnacht) are a way to use up those ingredients. The term Fausnacht translates to mean 'fasting eve,' which refers to the fast that occurs on Ash Wednesday tomorrow.
If you recall my first post on PA German culture you may remember that I outlined distinctions between the Plain Dutch (Amish and Mennonites), who rejected church liturgy and rites because they thought Reformers such as Luther and Calvin did not go far enough, and the Fancy Dutch (Lutherans, Schwenkfelders and others) who continued in the liturgical tradition. Given that, it seems apparent that Fausnacht Day is more associated with the Fancy Dutch since they are the ones who adhere more closely to liturgical calendars.
Yes, I will be making Fausnachts today. If I were a really good and traditional housewife, I'd have gotten up in the middle of the night to make Fausnachts so everyone could have them for breakfast. Given the time consuming nature of theses things I think you all know there ain't no way I am doing that. Traditionally, the last one out of bed this morning is also known as the Fausnacht. Given how I feel about early mornings I would love to be able to lay in bed and BE the Fausnacht (that sounds sort of zenlike to me...be the fasunacht, you are the fausnacht). It's supposes to be a shameful thing to be the last out of bed but my sense of shame never quite kicked in where pre-dawn risings are concerned. At House of Lime we have our Fausnachts for dinner. If I am feeling particularly shameless that's ALL we have for dinner.
Since I have this love for Trinidad I also need to find a way to work in the bacchanal that is Carnival. All yuh know I does dance in de kitchen, so as I fryin' de fausnachts I will be getting on bad to dis...