Experience Paczki Day in Hamtramck
Mardi Gras, or “Fat Tuesday” as it is commonly called, has deep roots in the Christian calendar. Mardi Gras was originally considered the last hurrah before Lent began on Ash Wednesday, and people who observed Lent would take the day to use up all the eggs, lard, sugar, and dairy in their homes before the required fasting began.
An interesting and lesser known fact about Mardi Gras is that it is actually part of the popular festival Carnival. On January 6 the Christian holiday Epiphany (also known as the Twelfth Day of Christmas as well as Three Kings Day) kicks off the Carnival season, which ends with Mardi Gras.
Thought to have been brought to North America in 1699, New Orleans is the city most commonly associated with Mardi Gras. The tradition of Fat Tuesday today is filled with beads, parades, and masked balls, and has since spread to other cities across the globe.
Here in the Detroit metro Fat Tuesday is also popular, but we tend to call it Paczki Day because of the traditional pastries brought to us by our large Polish population. Paczki are fried balls of dough originally filled with prunes or sweet cream and then covered with powdered sugar or icing. Hamtramck is the best place to get your paczki on Paczki Day. And while the bakeries in this Polish enclave still serve the traditional paczki stuffed full of prunes, there are plenty of shops that have created their own unique versions of the paczki.
The New Palace Bakery continuously tops the list of bakeries to get your paczki fix – and with unusual fillings like rosehip set alongside more common and traditionally delicious flavors like strawberry custard (called the Hamtramck 75th Anniversary) and chocolate custard (named the Millennium Swirl), it’s no surprise people line up for hours just to get their hands on one.
Having once met the challenge to create the largest paczki in Michigan, as well as offering as wide a selection of paczki flavors as New Palace Bakery, New Martha Washington Bakery is a strong contender for drawing in the largest crowd on Fat Tuesday.
If being able to indulge in delicious paczki isn’t motivation enough to make the trek to Hamtramck, a day of fun and activities might just do the trick. After picking up your paczki in the morning you can stick around for the annual Paczki Day Parade or head on over to Small’s Bar to listen to a line-up of live musicians celebrating the day. Later you can venture out again to watch authentic Polish dancing before catching dinner at one of the city’s traditional restaurants. Lent begins at the first strike of midnight, so be sure to fill your day with revelry and paczki before it’s too late.