Would you like a little change of air after a long, challenging winter? Just imagine! To set aside the everyday routine. Together with many others take to the streets, uniting to celebrate, enjoy and have fun.
February is the most suitable occasion for that! It is a month of Carnivals – public celebrations, including events such as parades, street parties, colourful costumes and entertainments happening over a few days.
And where there is a celebration, there is flavoursome and delicious food! Today we will talk about celebration doughnuts – symbol of luck, a bountiful harvest, wealth and prosperity.
More than 50 countries celebrate Carnival. It is a true expression of freedom, vibrantly coloured streets, music and, of cause, an abundance of food.
Why food? Because this merrymaking takes place in many Roman Catholic countries in the last days and hours before the Lenten season. The word “carnival” probably derives from the Medieval Latin “carnem levare” or “carnelevarium”, which means to take away or remove meat.
Traditionally many people go on a fast during Lent, giving up meat, sugar or other foods and drink. Therefore Carnival is an opportunity to enjoy these treats for the last time before Lent.
Most European countries have some version of doughnut, which they typically associate with Carnival. The belief is that eating doughnuts brings good luck, a bountiful harvest, and a generous amount of money to the house. While the ribbon running around the edge of the doughnut represents a symbol of a wedding ring for couples. Hence, eating carnival doughnuts is an absolute must!
Venice has “Frittelle di carnevale” – fried dough balls, enriched with dried fruit and spices.
French Lyon offers sugar-dusted “Bugne” – a yeast dough tied in a knot.
In Spain, it is “Rosquillas de anis” – doughnut shaped dough flavoured with anisette. While Valencian Community is famous for its “Banuelos” – small doughnuts, light and fluffy, made with pumpkin.
There is a documentary mention of “Krapfen” (jelly doughnut) In Central Europe from as early as the 13th century. The 14th century Czech manuscript cookbook suggests doughnuts stuffing of figs, stewed pears, peaches and sour cherries.
In Switzerland and Holland there is a tradition to eat “Fasnacht” on a Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent starts.
In Vienna, an ordinance from 1486 makes clear that professional doughnut bakers were supplying the city at that time. By the late 18th century, jam-filled doughnuts were commonplace. Though due to the high value of sugar, they appeared only on fancy occasions.
Today jelly doughnuts are famous across Central Europe under an assortment of regional names. A variety of fillings includes jam, fruit, custard, chocolate, etc.
Israelis have adapted the carnival doughnut tradition, serving “Sufganyiot” for Hanukkah – the Festival of Lights.
One of the most popular celebrations in Poland is called “Fat Thursday”. It is a huge carnival like the one in Rio de Janeiro or in Venice. Locals line up at the bakeries as early as 3a.m. to ensure they get their batch. The legend says that the more doughnuts one eats on this day, the more happiness and luck he will have in the upcoming future.
“Pączki” or Berliners are fist-sized donuts filled with rose hip jam and covered with glazing. Other popular treat is “Angel wings” (Faworki). Thease are French dough fingers served with powdered sugar.
As we can see, in all cultures these celebrations have one common idea behind. It is to welcome the upcoming spring, highlight social unity and to enjoy the flavour of rich foods before Lent.
The Happy Family Bakery makes various types of doughnuts for you. Enjoy our doughnuts with strawberry jam, chocolate caramel and vanilla custard cream. How scrumptious is that!
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