Fat Thursday

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Fat Thursday
Type Christian, Cultural
Significance Celebration period before fasting season of Lent
Celebrations Feasting
Date 6 days before Ash Wednesday, 52 days before Easter
2017 date February 23
2018 date February 8
2019 date February 28
Frequency Annual
Related to Carnival, Fat Tuesday
A plate of Polish pączki
A plate of angel wings
"Bizcochos" and "mona" on Fat Thursday in Albacete, Spain

Fat Thursday[note 1] is a traditional Catholic Christian feast marking the last Thursday before Lent and is associated with the celebration of Carnival. Because Lent is a time of fasting, the next opportunity to feast would not be until Easter. Traditionally it is a day dedicated to eating, when people meet in their homes or cafés with their friends and relatives and eat large quantities of sweets, cakes and other meals usually not eaten during Lent. Among the most popular all-national dishes served on that day are pączki in Poland[1][2] or berliner, fist-sized donuts filled with rose marmalade, and faworki, French dough fingers served with powdered sugar.

By country[edit]


Weiberfastnacht is an unofficial holiday in the Rhineland.[3] At the majority of workplaces, work ends before noon. Celebrations start at 11:11 am. In comparison with Rosenmontag, there are hardly any parades, but people wear costumes and celebrate in pubs and in the streets.[4] Beueler Weiberfastnacht ("women's carnival in Beuel") is traditionally celebrated In the Bonn district of Beuel.[5] The tradition is said to have started here in 1824, when local women first formed their own "carnival committee". The symbolic storming of the Beuel town hall is broadcast live on TV. In many towns across the state of North Rhine Westphalia, a ritual "takeover" of the town halls by local women has become tradition. Among other established customs, on that day women cut off the ties of men, which are seen as a symbol of men's status. The men wear the stumps of their ties and get a Bützchen (little kiss) as compensation.[6]


Greeks celebrate Tsiknopempti, which literally means "Thursday of the Smoke of Grilled Meat". It is celebrated 11 days before Clean Monday (which marks the start of the fasting period of Lent); since the week before Lent is considered meat-free (but not dairy-free), and Wednesday and Friday are generally considered days of fasting in the Greek-Orthodox Christian tradition, this makes Tsiknopempti one of the last opportunities for people to eat meat, so this has traditionally led to the day acquiring a special festive character. Greeks celebrate by taking to the streets and consuming large quantities of grilled meat, such as souvlaki. Many local town councils set up grills in central squares with music and festivities.[7]


Giovedì Grasso (Fat Thursday) is celebrated in Italy,[8] but it is not very different from Martedì Grasso (Shrove Tuesday). In Venice at the turn into the twentieth century, for example, it was marked by "masquerades, a battle of flowers on the Plaza, a general illumination and the opening of the lottery".[9] The English writer Marie Corelli mentioned Giovedi Grasso in her second novel, Vendetta (1886), as a day when "the fooling and the mumming, the dancing, shrieking, and screaming would be at its height."[10]


In Poland, Fat Thursday is called Tłusty Czwartek. People purchase their favorite pastries from their local bakeries. Traditional foods include pączki, which are large deep-fried pieces of especially rich dough, traditionally filled with plum or rose hip jam (though others are commonly used) and topped with powdered sugar, icing, or glaze.[11][12]


In Spain this celebration is called jueves lardero, and in Catalan-speaking areas, dijous gras, a children's holiday.[13] In Albacete in central Spain, Jueves Lardero is celebrated with a square pastry called a bizcocho (see also Bizcocho) and a round pastry called a mona. In Aragon a meal is prepared with a special sausage from Graus while in Catalonia the tradition is to eat sweet Bunyols and Botifarra d’ou.

Other traditions[edit]

Syrian Catholics have celebrated the day as "Drunkard's Thursday" with dolmas as the traditional food.[14][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ German: Fetter Donnerstag, Schmotziger Donnerstag; or in areas where carnival is celebrated, Weiberfastnacht; Greek: Τσικνοπέμπτη (Tsiknopempti); Polish: tłusty czwartek; Hungarian: torkos csütörtök


  1. ^ Poles gorge themselves on Fat Thursday-TheNews.pl, http://www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/90408,Poles-gorge-themselves-on-Fat-Thursday
  2. ^ Fat Thursday in Poland – Lodz Post – Poland in English
  3. ^ "Attack of the Giant Bananas: Germany Kicks off Carnival" Tyrone Daily Herald (February 7, 1996): 9. via Newspapers.com open access publication – free to read
  4. ^ "Mark in Germany" Lake Park News (March 2, 1972): 7. via Newspapers.com open access publication – free to read
  5. ^ "This was 'Weiberfastnacht,' and Milady Held the Reins" Salt Lake Tribune (February 6, 1959): 35. via Newspapers.com open access publication – free to read
  6. ^ Petra Pluwatsch: Weiberfastnacht – Die Geschichte eines ganz besonderen Tages. KiWi, Köln, ISBN 978-3-462-03805-7
  7. ^ "Tsiknopempti: All you need to know about "Fat Thursday" in Greece". en.protothema.gr. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  8. ^ "'Fat Thursday' Celebrated by the Romans" Lebanon Daily News (February 27, 1930): 1. via Newspapers.com open access publication – free to read
  9. ^ Dwight, "Carnival of Venice Opens" The Times (Philadelphia) (February 10, 1899): 7. via Newspapers.com open access publication – free to read
  10. ^ Marie Corelli, Vendetta: A Story of One Forgotten (Floating Press 2015): 376. ISBN 9781776587513
  11. ^ "Fat Thursday & Herring Night". inyourpocket.com. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  12. ^ "Poland celebrates 'Fat Thursday'". thenews.pl. Retrieved 7 February 2016. 
  13. ^ Ora W. L. Slater, "Thursday before Lent is Barcelona Children's Day" El Paso Herald (June 25, 1928): 10. via Newspapers.com open access publication – free to read
  14. ^ Maxine Buren, "February Has Many Pre-Lenten Holidays" Oregon Statesman (February 13, 1960): 6. via Newspapers.com open access publication – free to read
  15. ^ "Catholic Recipe: Dolmas" Catholic Culture.org.

External links[edit]