With deep roots in Germany, Fastnacht Day is a pre-Lenten celebration that takes place the day before Ash Wednesday.
Fastnacht means “fast” and “night” in German. In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, Fastnacht represents an entire season of festivities leading up to Shrove Tuesday. The traditions are rooted in the same pre-Lenten celebrations that have taken place for centuries. Those fasting for Lent used up the rich foods they would be giving up in a feast.
One of the traditional items to come out of the celebration was a pastry made from potatoes and yeast. This delicious doughnut known as fastnacht came the U.S. by way of the Pennsylvania Dutch. In their settlements, the pastry is one of the principal food traditions. The sweet treat is often cut into a triangle or square. Along with fastnacht, the celebration in Pennsylvania Dutch country includes a sumptuous feast before the long 40 days fast.
HOW TO OBSERVE #FastnachtDay
Make fastnacht to celebrate. Or, enjoy a fastnacht from a local baker and take part in fastnacht festivities. Share where you get your fastnacht and use #FastnachtDay to post on social media.
The sweet holiday of Paczki Day takes place the day before Ash Wednesday. The Polish tradition of indulging in fried dough filled with jams, custards or other sweet surprises dates back to the Middle Ages.
A PUNCH-kee or POONCH-key or POOCH-key is traditionally a round Polish pastry filled with fruit and coated in sugar. Those who would be fasting during Lent needed to empty the pantry; this Polish pastry was an ideal way to use up what was in the larder. More modern versions fill the paczki with custard or cream and even cover the outside with a glaze and sprinkles.
The day is also full of music and entertainment much like Fat Tuesday and borrows many traditions from the French.
HOW TO OBSERVE #PaczkiDay
Order a paczki from your local bakery and enjoy it! What type of filling will you have? Traditional or will you be more modern? Join in the celebration and use #PaczkiDay to share on social media.
PACZKI DAY HISTORY
The celebration of Paczki Day dates back to the Middle Ages and is celebrated around the world.
National Grain-Free Day on February 21st inspires families and friends to gather and enjoy each others’ company over grain-free meals. What a remarkable way to devote an entire day to loved ones who cope with dietary limitations. Not only does the day create a way to recognize the difficulties of a restricted diet, but it celebrates the family and brings everyone back into the kitchen for a meal designed just for them.
Often someone who cannot have wheat, corn, or rice due to an allergy or another autoimmune disease finds themselves eating celery sticks at the latest family gathering or office party. But what we truly miss are the traditional family meals and feeling included. The celebration sets out to create an entire day full of meals entirely grain-free.
Friends and family join in the festive atmosphere and enjoy the delicious aromas of the recipes the menu has to offer. Create a memorable spread and don’t leave out the dessert!
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalGrainFreeDay
Exchange delicious grain-free recipes to grow your repertoire.
Cook together – experiment together. Find new ways to enjoy your favorite foods grain-free.
Try something new. Maybe there’s a new family favorite yet to be discovered.
Share every successful dish.
Use #NationalGrainFreeDay to share on social media.
NATIONAL GRAIN-FREE DAY HISTORY
In 2019, Siete Family Foods founded National Grain-Free Day to support those whose dietary restrictions require them to eat grain-free. They hope to bring them back around the table again by raising awareness and enjoying family meals.
The Registrar at National Day Calendar proclaimed the day to be observed on February 21st, annually.
Q. Are there grain-free flours that I can use in baking?
A. A. Yes. Grain-free flour comes from several sources. Some of them come from roots and nuts. Another source includes bananas.
Q. I miss eating rice. What is a good grain-free alternative?
A. Riced cauliflower, broccoli, or potatoes all serve as delicious alternatives. Choose the one that’s right for your meal.
February 21st Celebrated (and Not So Celebrated) History
The Cherokee Phoenix newspaper issued its first issue in New Echota, Cherokee Nation. Located in modern-day Gordon County, Georgia, the newspaper was edited by Elias Boudinot and printed in both English and Cherokee, using the written language created by Sequoya in the early 1800s. The newspaper would add the name Indian Advocate. Over the years, printing would stop due to funding and their forced removal west. However, today, the newspaper continues and also has an online presence.
On a frigid day in February, honor guests and military leaders gathered to dedicate the Washington Monument. During the ceremonies, President Chester Arthur accepted the monument on behalf of the people. The 555-foot tall obelisk opened to the public on October 9, 1888, after construction was completed.
The United States Patent Office issues patent no. 46,454 to blacksmith John Deere for the “improvement in plows.” Deere designed the curved and polished steel blade to precisely cut through the prairie soils. Today the design is known as a self-scouring steel plow. Unlike previous methods, the sticky clay comes away from the plow blade as it cuts through the soil instead of adhering to it and gumming up the blades.
The New Haven District Telephone Company issued the first telephone directory in the United States. The directory listed approximately 50 subscribers, advertisements, and instructions for using the telephone. Absent from the directory? Telephone numbers.
Harold W. Ross published the first issue of the weekly magazine, the New Yorker. Ross was also the magazine’s editor until he died in 1951.
While speaking at the Audubon Ballroom during an Organization of Afro-American Unity meeting, Malcolm X is assassinated. Three members of the Nation of Islam were convicted of the crime: Thomas Hagan, Muhammad Abdul Aziz, and Khalil Islam. Only Thomas Hagan admitted involvement.
February 21st Celebrated (and Not So Celebrated) Birthdays
Erma Bombeck – 1927
“A friend doesn’t go on a diet because you are fat.” Erma Bombeck. The American humorist syndicated her newspaper column “At Wit’s End” in 1965. She also published several books including At Wit’s End, The Grass Is Always Greener Over The Septic Tank, and A Marriage Made in Heaven…or Too Tired for an Affair.
Nina Simone – 1933
The Grammy-nominated R&B artist was a prolific performer and produced an enormous volume of work during her career. Recordings like “I Put a Spell on You,” “You’ll Go to Hell,” and “Four Women” among others earned her critical success.
Chuck Palahniuk – 1962
Author of Fight Club (1996), Chuck Palahniuk has published more than a dozen novels, graphic novels, and short stories. The freelance journalist’s first novel, FightClub, was also made into a film.
Scott and Mark Kelly – 1964
The identical twin astronauts participated in a landmark genomics study launched in 2015. While Scott Kelly spent nearly a year in space aboard the International Space Station, his brother Mark remained on Earth. The study examined the effects of space travel on DNA.
Jordan Peele – 1979
In 2003, the American actor and comedian found his rising star in the Fox comedy sketch series Mad TV. He is also known for Key & Peele and The Twilight Zone.
Francis Ronalds – 1788
Octavia Dickens – 1909
Charles Scribner – 1821
Alice Freeman Palmer – 1855
Barbara Jordan – 1936
The last day of Carnival and the day before Ash Wednesday, Fat Tuesday is the intertwining of a period of festivals and feasts that lead to a time of fasting and reflection. Also known as Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras, this enduring celebration has many traditions and deep roots around the world.
Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday) dates back to an ancient Roman festival honoring the deities Lupercalia and Saturnalia which took place in mid-February. When Christians arrived in Rome, they incorporated the festival into Lenten preparations.
For centuries, this solemn feast prepared Christians for the season of Lent and used up valuable meat and supplies they would be abstaining from in the days to come. Traditions surrounding the day have changed through the ages. Through time and culture, the practices of Lent and Carnival, Mardi Gras, and Shrove Tuesday have varied and become incorporated into regional customs.
In the United Kingdom, Shrove Tuesday is also known as Pancake Day. Pancakes are the perfect menu item when the future includes abstaining from fats, eggs, and sweets! In Russia, they celebrate the entire week during Shrovetide as Pancake Week.
Carnival & Mardi Gras
While the French didn’t originate the medieval feast, they did put their stamp on it. From parades to beignets and colorful masks, the last day of Carnival is full of elaborate costumes and lavish food sure to hold the revelers over through a long fast. During the 16th century, their ancestors celebrated Boeuf Gras (fatted calf), which included parading a bull decorated with flowers through the city. The decorated animal is followed through the streets by a retinue of colorfully dressed attendants and bands playing unusual instruments. There was even a Boeuf Gras Society in Mobile, Alabama, at one time. (See history below for more information.)
New Orleans holds the crown for Carnival and Mardi Gras celebrations in the United States. While the city is filled with French flavor and style, its culture is an eclectic infusion of many cultures. Colorful King Cake and thick, savory muffuletta sandwiches only suggest the indulgence possible on Fat Tuesday. Regional specialties like Etouffee, Po’boys, and jambalaya all add to the atmosphere of the day.
And while we satisfy our cravings, let’s not forget our beverages. Signature creations from New Orleans hit the spot. Be sure to try the Sazerac made with absinthe or the citrus cocktail Arnaud’s Special. For a smooth drink with some punch mix up a Vieux Carré made with whiskey, cognac, and sweet vermouth. But you don’t have to have a cocktail to enjoy the feast! Fat Tuesday has plenty of beverages full of refreshing flavor. Coffees, sodas, and shakes of every flavor can be found.
HOW TO OBSERVE #FatTuesday
Join in festivals around the country.
Have your own Fat Tuesday feast!
Listen to some jazz or brass band music.
Share your favorite traditions by using #FatTuesday, #MardiGras, #ShroveTuesday
FAT TUESDAY HISTORY
The roots of the celebration have been woven together for centuries from medieval spring festivals and feasts that were based on the Christian calendar. Fat Tuesday is celebrated around the world in its various forms all of which harken back to these roots of spring festivals and religious fasting in preparation for the Holy day of Easter.
Credit for bringing Mardi Gras to America goes to French explorers Pierre Le Moyne Sieur d’Iberville and Jean Baptiste Le Moyne Sieur de Bienville. In 1699, d’Iberville reached the mouth of the river on Shrove Tuesday near what is now Louisiana and named it Pointe du Mardi Gras.
Thanks to their establishment of Fort Louis de la Mobile, modern-day Mobile, Alabama lays claim to the first Mardi Gras celebration on American soil in 1703.
When de Bienville established Nouvelle Orleans in 1788, Mardi Gras celebrations reportedly began immediately. In 1875, Louisiana declared Fat Tuesday an official holiday.
Fat Tuesday FAQ
Q. Why do people wear masks for Mardi Gras?
A. The masks add a bit of mystery to the occasion but in the early days of Carnival, the masks allowed classes to mingle without fear of tarnishing their reputation.
Q. What is a King cake?
A. King cake can be served from the last day of Epiphany (January 6) to the day before Ash Wednesday (Fat Tuesday). A small toy baby is baked into the coffee cake-like pastry. It is decorated with yellow, purple and green frosting. The cake may also be filled with fruits, pastry cream, or cream cheese. Whoever gets the slice with the baby gets to bake the cake for the next Mardi Gras.
Every year at the end of February or beginning of March, National Pancake Day raises money for charity. IHOP restaurants began National Pancake Day in 2006. Since that day, they have raised close to $30 million for charities. On March 1, 2022, people from around the country will once again celebrate National Pancake Day at IHOP restaurants and enjoy free pancakes. Guests are asked to consider leaving a donation.
Also known as Johnnycakes, griddle cakes, or hotcakes, this batter-made breakfast item dates back more than 30,000 years. In fact, it may be the oldest breakfast food in history. They’re delicious with whipped cream, maple syrup, fruit, and berries.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NTLPanCakeDay
Visit IHOP and have pancakes for a good cause.
Make a donation.
Share your favorite toppings.
Invite someone to enjoy pancakes with you.
Take a picture and post it on social media.
Use #NTLPanCakeDay to share on social media.
From 7 AM to 4 PM, IHOP is offering one free short stack of their Original Buttermilk Pancakes. Donate to help children battling critical illnesses. Each year since 2006, IHOP National Pancake Day has raised nearly $30 million. Visit www.IHOP.com for more information on participating locations and charities.
Q. What are pancakes made from?
A. Pancake ingredients such as flour, sugar, eggs, milk, and oil create a batter. Spoonfuls of batter are then poured onto a hot griddle to make this tasty flat cake.
Q. Are pancakes only for breakfast?
A. No. Pancakes can be eaten at any meal, but they are a common breakfast item.
National Sticky Bun Day on February 21st recognizes a delicious pastry that comes rolled up and dripping with a sweet, sugary topping. They’re perfect with a hot cup of coffee in the morning or as an after-dinner sweet!
Known as “schnecken” meaning snail, the sticky bun is rolled into a sweet spiral resembling its German name. Still considered to be a Pennsylvania specialty, many believed the sticky bun’s origin in the United States began in the 19th century. German settlers brought their baking traditions with them when they began settling in and around Philadelphia.
Most often served for breakfast or as a dessert, sticky buns consist of rolled pieces of leavened dough. Most contain brown sugar and sometimes cinnamon. Before the dough is placed in the pan, the pan is lined with sticky sweet ingredients such as maple syrup, honey, nuts, sugar, and butter. When the buns are finished baking, the baker flips the pan upside-down so the sticky bottom becomes the topping.
Famous cousins to the sticky bun are the cinnamon roll, caramel roll and monkey bread.
HOW TO OBSERVE #NationalStickyBunDay
If you are craving this delicious sticky delight, try making some of your own with one of these sticky bun recipes. You can also stop by your local bakery and pick up their freshly baked sticky buns. Serve them with tea, coffee, or hot cocoa.
Use #NationalStickyBunDay to post on social media.
NATIONAL STICKY BUN DAY HISTORY
While enjoying a sticky bun, we’ll continue researching the origin of this sweet day.
Sticky Bun FAQ
Q. What kinds of nuts are best on sticky buns?
A. Pecans and walnuts are quite popular in sticky bun recipes.
Q. What kinds of spices usually go into sticky buns?
A. Common (and delicious) spices that usually go into sticky bun recipes include cinnamon, ginger, and star anise.
Q. Can I freeze leftover sticky buns?
A. We’re not sure what a leftover sticky bun is, but yes, you can freeze sticky buns. Wrap them well and place them in a freezer-safe container.
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