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What is it, and what are pączkis?

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DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN/NEXSTAR) — For some, Feb. 13 is more than just an average Tuesday.

It’s fondly known as Fat Tuesday among Christians and those who observe Lent, which technically begins on Wednesday. You may also know it by its French name, Mardi Gras.

However you refer to it, the day serves as a last hurrah before fasting for the six weeks of Lent. Throughout Lent, which ends at Easter, Christians “engage in acts of prayer, fasting and almsgiving,” Kim Mandelkow, director of the Office for Worship for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee previously explained to Nexstar.

Before entering the period of fasting, many use Fat Tuesday as a chance to indulge. Among the delicacies you’ll find people treating themselves to are pączkis (largely pronounced puhnch·kee, but potentially pown-check, depending on who you ask).

Pączki are Polish-style, filled yeast doughnuts that historically made use of excess ingredients such as butter, flour and sugar (foods Christians are encouraged to avoid between Ash Wednesday and Easter) ahead of Lent. They’re similar to a jelly doughnut but typically have less filling.

Some even prefer to call Fat Tuesday Pączki Day in honor of the treat. Chicago, with its large Polish population, takes a lot of credit for pączkis’ success in the U.S., but chances are, there’s a bakery near you serving them.

You may want to get your Valentine’s Day celebration out of the way on Tuesday, too: Ash Wednesday also falls on Feb. 14 this year. Because Christians are instructed to fast or abstain from certain foods on Ash Wednesday, it could make your Valentine’s Day celebration a little lackluster.

But take heart; Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day will only fall on the same day once more this century.

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