On the Saturday night before Ash Wednesday, the people of Helvetia (West Virginia, USA) put on scary masks and decorate their homes with scary figures to frighten away Old Man Winter. Then they gather at a local restaurant, light colorful lanterns, and walk to the community hall, where they parade around the dance floor as their masks are judged. They dance until midnight, when the fiddler announces it is time to burn Old Man Winter. The prettiest girl gets on the shoulders of the tallest man and cuts down the effigy of Old Man Winter that is hanging in the middle of the room. They drag it out into the snow, rough it up, and throw it onto a bonfire, showing that it’s time for winter to end!
From: the Americas Library http://www.americaslibrary.gov/es/wv/es_wv_fasncht_1.html
Or from WikiPedia:
Fastnacht Day is dependent upon the day of Easter, and Ash Wednesday. Easter Day varies from year to year because of the spring equinox, or full moon, and is usually the last Sunday of the month of March. Fastnacht Day takes place 47 days before Easter Day, on the Tuesday prior to Ash Wednesday.
Fastnacht Day dates
- March 5, 2019
- February 25, 2020
- February 16, 2021
- March 1, 2022
- February 21, 2023
Fastnacht Day (also spelled Fasnacht) is an annual Pennsylvania Dutch celebration that falls on Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. The word translates to “Fasting Night” in English. The tradition is to eat the very best foods, which are part of the German tradition, and much of them, before the Lenten fast. Fastnachts (pronounced /ˈfastnaxt/ in German) are doughnuts. There are three types of Fasnacht, one made with yeast, one made with baking powder, and one made with potatoes and yeast. All are slightly crispy on the outside and not as sweet as standard doughnuts. From WikiPedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fastnacht_(Pennsylvania_Dutch)
Recipe #1:Fastnachts with baking powder
3-1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 3/4 teaspoon ground mace (can use nutmeg) 1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening (use lard if you can get it) 1 cup granulated sugar 2 large eggs, beaten 1 cup milk vegetable or canola oil for frying, about 2 quarts
Place the flour, baking powder, salt and mace in a medium bowl. Stir with a wire whisk to combine. Set aside. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the shortening and sugar until fluffy. Add the eggs and mix until creamy. Gradually add the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk, mixing on low speed, just until well-combined. Place on a floured board. Work the dough lightly with hands, adding a little more flour as needed if it is too sticky. (This dough should be very soft, something like a biscuit dough, so don’t add more flour than necessary.) Gently roll the dough into a 1/2-inch thick rectangle or square. Using a sharp knife, cut into 2-inch squares or similarly sized rectangles. Heat the oil in a deep-sided pot over medium heat to 375 °F. Carefully add the fastnachts to the oil, about 6 per batch, and fry until well-browned on one side, about 2 minutes. Flip and brown the other side for another 2 or 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat with the remaining fastnachts.
Recipe #2: Fastnachts with Yeast
2 cups scalded milk, ½ cup lard, 1 cup mashed potatoes, 2 teaspoons salt, ¾ cup sugar, 2 well beaten eggs, 1 package yeast, 7 cups flour, approximately
Scald milk and add mashed potatoes, sugar, salt, and lard. Cool until lukewarm. Add eggs. Add yeast and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead well and place in a greased bowl. Cover with a cloth and let rise about 1½ hours. Roll ¼ inch thick on a floured board. Place on a cloth and let rise until doubled in size and fry in hot fat.
Recipe #3: Fastnachts with potatoes and baking powder
2 1/2 c. hot mashed potatoes 1 cup milk 3 beaten eggs 2 Tablespoons melted butter 2 cups sugar 2 Tablespoons baking powder 5 cups all-purpose flour
In a large bowl combine all ingredients, but add flour slowly. Divide dough in half and roll to 1/2″ thickness. Cut with doughnut cutter. Fry in deep fat or oil, turning when brown. Drain on paper towels and let cool.
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