Also known as
52 days before Easter
Taking place on the last Thursday before Ash Wednesday, which begins Lent, Fat Thursday is a Christian feast that is primarily celebrated in European countries. It is similar to Fat Tuesday, which is celebrated the following week, but in many European countries, it is the more important holiday of the two. It also is associated with Carnival. As much fasting is done during Lent, Fat Thursday is a day for getting together and eating sweets and other foods that are eschewed during that season. Commonly eaten foods include pączki, berliners, and angel wings.
The holiday is given different names in various European countries, where distinct foods are associated with the day. The day appears to be most widely celebrated in Poland, where it is known as Tłusty Czwartek. Pastries and doughnuts from bakeries are eaten, especially pączki. The tradition of eating doughnuts on the day began in the seventeenth century. In parts of Germany, it is known as Weiberfastnacht. People wear costumes, and celebrations in the streets and in pubs begin at 11:11 a.m. It is known as the "women's carnival" and there is a tradition of women "taking over" town halls. In some parts of Germany, the holiday is also known as Fetter Donnerstag.
Fat Thursday is known as Tsiknopempti in Greece, which roughly translates to "Thursday of the Smoke of Grilled Meat." Being one of the last times that celebrants can eat meat before Lent, many Greeks grill meat such as souvlaki, and many cities set up grills in central squares and hold celebrations there. In Italy, the holiday is known as Giovedì Grasso, and in Sweden, it is known as Fettisdagen.
In some parts of Spain, it is known as Jueves Lardero. Bizcochos and a pastry called a mona are commonly eaten in the city of Albacete, and in the area of Aragon a special sausage is eaten. The holiday is called Dijous Gras in the region of Catalonia, and marked by eating bunyols and botifarra d'ou.
How to Observe
Regardless if you are planning on observing Lent in the following weeks, you can celebrate Fat Thursday today. It is best celebrated by indulging in large amounts of foods that aren't very healthy, such as sweets, as well as by eating meat, which many abstain from during Lent. If you are in the United States, you could go to an ethnic bakery or grocery store to pick up some foods that are eaten on the day in European countries. Some foods you could enjoy today include pączki, berliners, angel wings, souvlaki, bizcochos, bunyols, and botifarra d'ou. If you are in a country such as Spain, Germany, or Poland, it shouldn't be too hard to find celebrations to attend.