Rio de Janeiro has Carnival. New Orleans has Mardi Gras. And Lancaster County has Fastnacht Day (also spelled as Fasnacht Day)!
Fastnacht Day is the Pennsylvania Dutch way to celebrate Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wendesday, when people traditionally feast before they fast for the Lenten season. A fastnacht is dough, made with yeast or baking soda, that's deep-fried in lard. Originally, housewives made fastnachts as a way of using up the lard in the pantry, before fasting for Lent. Today, fastnachts can come glazed or sprinkled with sugar, but the traditional way of eating them is with molasses. Fastnachts are sometimes fried in vegetable oil instead of lard, in an attempt to be slightly more healthy.
For the last four years, Oregon Dairy has made picking up fresh fastnachts quick and easy with their drive-thru service. Jim Hensel, Oregon Dairy Farm's Perishable Food Manager, said, "It sounded like a pretty good idea, because a lot of people are going to work and we wanted to make it easy to pick up their fastnachts and head to the office, or pick them up and head home to eat them." Oregon Dairy sells fastnachts that are plain, powdered and glazed, although Hensel said the powdered is their bestseller. He estimates that Oregon Dairy sells 1,000 dozen fastnachts each year.
Where to find fastnachts
Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church, 409 Cherry St , Columbia
Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church is famous in Lancaster for their fastnachts. The demand is so high that they must be pre-ordered. Call the Fastnacht Hot-line at 717-684-9612, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Oregon Dairy Farm, 2900 Oregon Pike, Lititz
Oregon Dairy Farm's front lot will host their Fastnacht Day Drive-Thru, from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. Follow the line of cars under the carport, where you can purchase plain, powdered or glazed fastnachts.
Holy Spirit Lutheran Church, 3131 Columbia Ave., Lancaster
Holy Spirit Lutheran Church sells fastnachts as a fundraiser for their Youth Ministry program. Visit their fastnacht drive-thru on Monday, February 8, from 2 p.m. to 8 p.m., and Tuesday, February 9, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Choose from glazed, plain and powdered fastnachts.
Dosie Dough, 45 S. Broad St. Lititz
Dosie Dough, a favorite bakery for Lititz locals, will serve fastnachts from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Try one of their signature organic coffees to wash it down with.
Achenbach's Pastries, 375 East Main Street, Leola
Pick up fasnachts at Achenbach's on Monday, Feb. 8, from 5:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Tuesday, Feb. 9, from 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. You can also order a King Cake, a Mardi Gras tradition, through Feb. 6.
Zig's Bakery, 800 E Newport Rd, Lititz
Zig's Bakery will offer fastnachts at their new Brick Gables location from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Fastnachts will also be available at their Lancaster Central Market stand from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Made with Love, Not Gluten, 1021 W Main Street, Mount Joy
You can still celebrate Fastnacht Day if your diet is gluten-free. Made with Love, Not Gluten is taking pre-orders for gluten-free fastnacht. Visit the website to place your order online.
Stauffer's of Kissel Hill, Rohrerstown, Lititz and Oregon Pike
Stauffer's of Kissel Hill advertises a new and improved recipe for fresh-baked fastnachts daily at all of their locations.
You can also buy fastnachts at Giant and Weis grocery stores.