2012 Hamtramck Paczki Day
Location Name: Hamtramck Paczki Day (Hamtramck, Michigan)
Location Type: Event (Cultural)
A long loved tradition for Hamtramck and Metropolitan Detroit, Paczki Day is a cultural, ethnic and religious celebration for many in the area. In Hamtramck, people line the streets early in the morning; waiting in line outside the city’s many Polish bakeries. They seek the calorie-rich paczki; Often by the dozens. These Polish treats are similar to jelly doughnuts; but it only takes one bite to see the distinguishing differences that result in these long lines every winter. A paczek (the singular form of paczki) is a deep-fried piece of dough shaped into a flattened sphere and filled with confiture or other sweet filling. Traditional fillings include prune and rosehip but many varieties are made; interesting new flavors seem to pop up every year. Often glazed or dusted with powdered sugar; they can exceed 400 calories and 25 gram of fat each.
Hamtramck’s Paczki Day is better known throughout the world as Mardi Gras (French for ‘Fat Tuesday’). It falls on the day before Ash Wednesday; the last day before the Catholic Lenten season. Across the world many take part in similar festivities in advance of the fasting and abstinence of Lent begins. In Polish tradition, Catholic’s would make paczki in an effort to use up all the lard, sugar, eggs and fruit in their homes before their consumption was forbidden during Lent. When Polish immigrants began coming to the United States and settle in ethnic enclaves such as Hamtramck, these traditions came along with them. Still boasting a large ethnic Polish population, Hamtramck morphs into a paczki-making center every year; fueled also by a large Polish community across Metropolitan Detroit and many other paczki lovers who have grown to consider Paczki Day a tradition of their own.
In Hamtramck, Paczki Day is a citywide festival offering food, music and entertainment. Paczki lovers can sign up to participate in the annual paczki-eating contest; the record stands at 22 paczki in 10 minutes! Many local bars host parties with live entertainment, some starting as early as 7:00 a.m. The epicenter of the morning paczki ritual is at the ethnic bakeries; the most popular of which are the New Palace Bakery and the New Martha Washington Bakery. By mid-morning the bulk of the paczki business (packaged by the dozen and making their way to local offices and places of business) has waned. The city then comes alive in the bars and restaurants. More avid Polish traditionalists do not stop with the paczki; they continue to feast on Polish food from the city’s many wonderful restaurants and drinking at the bars. Local bar Whiskey In The Jar is known for its music, food and raspberry vodka-infused paczki. Paczki flavored shots are also a favorite throughout the city’s bars. Of course, according to tradition, at midnight all festivities cease and the season of Lent ushers in a period of...well, Hamtramck may not honor all traditions as well as that of the famed paczki.Sources