Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Fausnacht Day


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...

24 comments:

Casdok said...

Cheers for the reminder, i had forgotton it was pancake day!!

airplanejayne said...

fausnacht
::shiver::
it sounds almost.....
::shiver::
okay -it does sound like...
::shiver::
something you should be doing in bed!!!
I'm going back to bed and
fausnacht!

Thanks as always, for the glimpse into your home on a holiday!

furiousBall said...

I really like the concept of pancake day. When's cheesesteak day? I'm ready to celebrate.

Gledwood said...

Weird that they clash it with Rio's carnival... Naomi Campbells' aparently in Rio... fair enough she does look good with a Carmen Miranda hat on: but I have to say she'd look much better drest up as a pancake!!

barman said...

Somehow pancake day just does not sound right. So when is Choclate Day? Oh that is right, that is much to important to assign it just one day.

Have fun shaking your groove thing and a great time making your traditional dish. All I can say is yummm.

BBC said...

I've never been to any events like that. Would be interesting to observe one I guess, I like to observe things.

Suldog said...

MY WIFE and I will be going out to eat with a good friend. We will be going to an Irish-themed restaurant. We are going to order one of EVERY APPETIZER ON THE MENU then follow that with desserts. For tomorrow, we diet.

I'll be doing my usual no flour, no dairy Lenten fast. It's good for about 10 -15 pounds by itself, without exercise. Of course, I hope it's also good for the soul :-)

Maddy said...

No take out then? I think I'll stick to pancakes too.
Cheers

Tommy said...

Remember, Fausnachts are ALWAYS to be fried in LARD ONLY! If you don't the holy ghost won't roll the rock away from the base of the tree so the bunnies and seafood can escape and lay easter eggs and caviar all over the field so kids, rich and poor, can pop fireworks to celebrate the end of the civil war ... or something like that. I need another diet coke.

Laisse le Bon Temps Rouler! HAPPY MARDI GRAS!

david mcmahon said...

I'd never heard of Fausnacht. Thank you for educating me!

Jeni said...

The men of our church (yes, it is Lutheran) have a traditional meal they cook for the congregation on Shrove Tuesday - and my daughter, the two young grandchildren, my son and his girlfriend and I will all be going out this evening to our church social building for a delicious supper of pancakes and sausage! Some members of our church occasionally do the traditional "giving up" something for Lent but it is not a hard, fast rule in our church -not like it usually is or was, at least back when I was a kid, in the Catholic churches.

Bunny said...

We have paczki (poonch-key) around here, but similar. Polish instead of German, more of a jelly doughnut-type thingy. Paczki purists also insist they must be fried in lard, not vegetable shortening or oil.

I don't fry stuff in the house (our house stinks for days if I do - I need a better exhaust fan), so I'm doing a down-home decadent dinner tonight instead - ham cooked in coca-cola and coated in molasses and turbinado sugar, baked beans, greens, and paczki for dessert. Works for us as a pre-Lenten feast.

G-Man said...

I love that word..Schwenkfelder!!
hehehehe...
I wanna go to Bunny's house for dinner, then to your's for dessert!!!
Have a great time in the kitchen...xoxox

Hypersonic said...

Hmmm. Well the Carnival here in the Northeast is waaaaay better than Rio or São Paulo. And I always knew it as Shrove Tuesday in the U.K as well. But with the continuing secularisation of that country it is now called "Pancake Day", though we always had pancakes and hot-cross buns.

Cooper said...

I remember Fausnachts!!! Wow, haven't had any of those in a long time. There were always two, well actually three foods that will always be Central PA to me. Fausnachts is one, Funnel Cakes at The Bloomsburg Fair is two, and pickled eggs on the counter of every single bar in existance - not that I eat them (ugh).

Dorky Dad said...

I'm going to have a talk with my wife. I didn't wake up to fausnacht this morning.

Sad. Really sad.

The Zombieslayer said...

I don't know why, but I have this strong feeling that Mardi Gras and Carnival are a heck of a lot more fun than Pancake Day.

Fausnacht does sound Zen. Or, it sounds more like a wrestling move. "There! Grab his arm and put him in a Fausnacht!" Fausnacht is one of the hardest holds to escape from.

cathy said...

In Greece we have APOKRIES,lots of fancy dress parties and parades, towards the end we have SIKNO PEMPTY,which is celebrated by eating lots of meat. This is closely followed by KATHARI DEVTERA which signals the beginning of lent and on which seafood is eaten and kites are flown. Greeks take their celebrations seriously so there is also lots of quaffing beer and wine.

Queenie said...

Didn't do pancakes (forgot).Never heard of Fausnacht, see I learn something each time I'm here. Sounds like a good time in Cathys land don't you think.

Mona said...

Those Pan cakes sound delicious :)

Moosekahl said...

A little powered sugar and honey and those look delicious! can you tell I'm not quite in that self-denial stage of the season yet?

RennyBA said...

Great post - nice to compare different customs for the same thing all over the world. In Norway we call it Fastelavn:
www.terella.no/2007/02/19/fastelavn-in-scandinavia/

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Anonymous said...

nice post, now I know why I like to sleep in
Jim Fosnaught (and yes i'm Lutheran)
our family does it the easy way, pop n fresh biscuts, cut hole in center and then drop into fry daddy deep fryer, turn once, shake in paper bag with sugar,
quick and easy, since we all sleep in...