In Poland, tłusty czwartek is celebrated on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent. Because Lent is a time of fasting, the next opportunity to feast would not be until Easter. Instead of parading and partying like in Mardi Gras, Poles line up to buy their favorite pastries from their local bakery (piekarnia). Of course the most famous pastry is the Pączki, a deep fried doughnut filled with any number of sweet fillings. Fat Thursday is one of the busiest days of the year among bakers and confectioners with an estimated 20 times higher demand for pączki than on any other day of the year. Fat Thursday (Shrove Thursday) marked the beginning of Fat Week – a time of great gluttony during which Poles would eat loads of lard (smalec) and bacon, sometimes washed down with vodka.
A popular Polish proverb is: “if you don’t eat at least one doughnut on Shrove Thursday, you will no longer be successful in life.”