MARDI GRAS IS THE CELEBRATION DURING THE LAST DAYS BEFORE LENT. LENT IS THE SEASON OF PRAYER AND FASTING OBSERVED BY SOME CHRISTIAN DENOMONATIONS DURING THE 40 DAYS AND 7 SUNDAYS BEFORE EASTER.
MARDI GRAS CELEBRATIONS HAVE DATED BACK TO THE LATE 1700s. THE OVAL SHAPED KING CAKE, A SWEETENED YEAST BREAD DECORATED IN THE CARNIVAL COLORS OF GREEN FOR FAITH, YELLOW FOR POWER, AND PURPLE FOR JUSTICE IS THE TRADITIONAL TREAT SERVED DURING THE SEASON.
CUSTOMS SAYS THAT WHO EVER FINDS THE TOY BABY PLACED INSIDE WILL BE FORTUNATE AND SHOULD CONTRIBUTE TO A WORTHY CAUSE. CONTEMPORARY CUSTOMS SAYS WHO EVER GETS THE TOY BABY HIDDEN IN THEIR PIECE MUST PROVIDE THE KING CAKE FOR THE NEXT MARDI GRAS CELEBRATION.
For hundreds of years in my beloved Poland, my countrymen have been celebrating the arrival of Lent by making Paczki (Punch-key). These delicious, jelly filled dough balls are make from the finest ingredients and are covered with several types of sugar or glaze. For Fat Tuesday (Ostatki), the day before Ash Wednesday, our bakers make paczki because we are going to fast for 40 days and we want to use up the ingredients in our households. Our German neighbors to the west call them Berliners and our Austrian friends to the south celebrate with the Krapfen. Please join me, a Polish-American leader, and the Bakers of Pastry Perfection in re-living this old polish custom by enjoying the best paczki.