Fat Tuesday is Paczki Day for Polish immigrants

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NEW BRITAIN--You may know it as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, but in Poland it is Paczki Day!

Traditionally, Fat Tuesday is a carnival or celebration held by Catholics on the day before Ash Wednesday to enjoy rich, fatty foods before fasting for Lent. Although in Poland the holiday is celebrated on the previous Thursday and called Fat Thursday--or Tlusty Czwartek--the intent is the same, and it is where paczki comes from.

Paczki, pronounced "punchkey," are sort of like doughnuts filled with jelly or jam, and traditionally were made to use up the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in the home before Lent.

At Kasia's Bakery in New Britain, Elizabeth Filipkowska says the bakery makes hundreds of these sweet treats in the days leading up to Lent.

In fact, though the bakers stay up all night making 700-900 of the doughnuts, by 9 a.m. they were gone.

Though Kasia's Bakery, which has been open on Main Street in New Britain for 26 years, makes paczki year-round, this is the biggest week for the snack.

"Normally, we eat them on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday, and today is the end of carnival," Filipkowska said, "and that would be the last day, so you would eat the paczkis."