March 1st is also Ash Wednesday, the start of the Christian Lenten season. People around the world are familiar with the celebrations of the oncoming lent. It is Mardis Gras in New Orleans: Carnival in many places including Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil and Cologne, Germany. In the Bavarian region of Germany, where my father comes from, it is called Fasching. Fat Tuesday is referred to as Fasching Dienstag.
These events started out as deeply rooted celebrations of the coming of spring. As Christianity spread, many Lenten rituals were performed for the preparation of Easter. It seems that we have moved full circle and these celebrations are raucous street fairs, more mimicking pagan rituals than Christian ideals
I was in Munich one year on Fasching Dienstag. Most people are familiar with Munich’s Oktoberfest and the boisterous celebration at the fairgrounds. I have attended several Oktoberfests. I can tell you the scene on Fasching at the Marienplatz in the middle of Munich made Oktoberfest almost seem tame.
I will admit it was a lot of fun, but I fail to see the correlation with any religious meaning. We left Munich on Ash Wednesday and found ourselves in a small town where Carole’s and my german did not seem to take us very far. We went to this quaintpub-style restaurant where I ordered Lake Carp off the menu to be meat-free that day. This is how I found out my german wasn’t as good as I thought. On my plate was a whole fish with its eye seeming to lock onto mine. Braving the challenge, I cut into it and the flesh was still soft and runny. I can still sense it, all these years later.
Fashing Dienstag, or Mardis Gras and my Ash Wednesday “non-dinner” are important for a reason. They are emotional anchors for me and all of us. Holidays are full of tradition and each family marks the passing of the months in different and sometimes unique ways.
The bakery is also full of traditions. For the Lenten season we make the Lenten donuts as they were sold in Munich. Our family has been making them since before I was born. Yesterday a person told me she brought some to a resident at a nursing home. He told her he remembers a bakery in Bellerose making them and how he loved them. Of course, that bakery was Reinwald’s Bakery. To me, traditions matter. At the bakery we still make your family traditions a little bit more memorable. We consider it an honor and privilege to becoming a part of your celebrations.Enjoy your days,
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