Wednesday, February 25, 2009

fastnachtlauchen

...try saying that 5 times fast!

Yesterday was Fastnacht, Shrove Tuesday and according to German and Pennsylvania Dutch folklore, if you didn't make the fastnachtlauchen, your flax crop will fail...and you might even get a few boils...

Fastnachtlauchen is a little cake made from sweet yeast dough which is fried. According to "Eastertide in Pennsylvania" by Alfred Lewis Shoemaker--fastnachtlauchen "possessed virtues beyond the nutritional".

Leaving 3 fastnachtlauchen on the windowsill to be consumed by a little man ensured good luck and apparently, if you fed fastnacht crumbs to the chickens, it would help them to lay well,and protect them from hawks.

The leftover lard (used to fry the cakes) was saved for greasing the wagons and spade --it was thought to keep the insects from the fields.

But most interesting to me, were the customs and beliefs that centered around Fastnacht and Flax. First of all, no spinning of flax on Fastnacht. It was day for dancing...and the higher a couple could leap, the higher their flax would grow.

If it froze on Shrove Tuesday..it would be a good year for flax. If icicles on the roof were long, even better...the flax would grow long too.

And even "more complex- if the sun shines in the morning... the flax would be planted early in the year...if it didn't shine till the afternoon, it would be planted late."..humm...sounds like they are confusing that one with groundhogs day.

Not being one to destroy traditions...

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I dutifully made a small batch of fastnachtlauchen...and I left 3 cakes for the little man, fed some crumbs to the chickens, saved some of the vegetable oil in a jar and stashed it in the greenhouse, did a little dance, and jumped as high as I could. It was freezing yesterday, but only a few icicles were on the eves.

I was the first one out of bed on Fastnacht, so I was known as (der has lumba- or the cleaning rag!) or (die gluck - the cluck!) or worse (der schpeel-lumba-suckler - the dishrag sucker!)..but I didn't go stand in the yard stark naked ...(that was said to prevent one from getting sick that year)...humm..standing outside in my birthday suit in 22 degrees at 6:30 AM didn't seem like a good idea, so I made fastnachtlauchen instead.

By the way, would you like some Fastnachtlauchen? They are great for dunking..

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If you would like my recipe, email me and I will send it off to you.

Oh, just to be on the safe side...I didn't do any spinning, but I did do some weaving on the RH, which I finally, successfully warped..so this is for Judy, who requested a photo....

Photobucket ps... all kidding aside, it is interesting to note how the making of fastnachtlauchen used up the yeast and animal fats...both of which were to be cleaned from the house before passover....

12 comments:

elizabeth said...

That is so cool! I'd ask for the recipe but I've given up sugar for Lent! Not because I'm religious, just because.

The Gingerbread House said...

Sounds like a good snack and for breakfast too...I'd like the recipe for the fastnachtlauchen..(good thing I can write it and not have to say it :o)...Ginny

Sharon said...

That is so facinating! My mum is Austrian, I will have to ask her if she knows anything about it!

I would love the recipe!

pacalaga said...

That sounds yum. I'd take the recipe too! I think that's the same reason some people call Mardi Gras Pancake Day.

Valerie said...

Hmm...I'm originally from Pa. (Pgh. area) and of German heritage and never heard of fastnachtlauchen, but can reasonable work out what it means.

Here in the Detroit area, everyone is Polish on Shrove Tuesday for Paczki day http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/P%C4%85czki

Fastnachtlachen sound like Paczki without the jelly or custard filling. I ate too many Packi yesterday.

cyndy said...

The fastnacht kuchen and traditions were brought over with the Germans who settled in the Eastern regions of PA..(sometimes called Pennsylvania Dutch).

There is a beautiful
PENNSYLVANIA SPINNERS SONG by Mrs. Ferguson, of Graeme Park that was composed for one of the celebrations in Montgomery County.

"Since Fate has ordain'd us these rural abodes,
Far distant from honor and fortune's high roads,
Let us cheerfully pass thro' life's innocent vale,
Nor look up to the mountain since fixed in the dale;
When storms rage the forest, and mighty trees fall,
The low shrub is sheltered that clings to the wall.
So let our wheels and reels go merrily, round,
While health, peace and virtue among us are found.

"Tho' the great deem us little, and do us despise,
Let them know It is wise to make little suffice,
In this we will teach them, altho' they are great,
It is always true wisdom to bond to our fate;
For tho' King or Congress should carry the day,
We farmers and spinners at least must obey,
Then let our wheels and reels go merrily round,
While health, peace and virtue among us are found.

"Our flax has its beauties, an elegant green,
When it shoots from the earth enamels the scene;
When broken and moisten'd in filaments fine,
Our maidens they draw the flexible line:
Some fine as a cobweb while others more coarse,
To wear but of week days, of substance and force.
Then let the wheels and reels go merrily round,
While health, peace and virtue among us are found.

"Since all here assembl'd to card and to spin,
Then, girls, be nimble and quickly begin
To help neighbor Friendly, and when we have done
The boys they shall join us at set of the sun;
Perhaps as brisk partners, shall lead us thro' life,
And the dance of the night end in husband and wife.
So let our wheels and reels go merrily round
While health, peace and virtue among us are found."

finnsheep said...

In Germany Shrove Tuesday is celebrated like Carnival in New Orleans. It is called Fasching in Germany - - much wine and beer flows.

Tam said...

Interesting and looks yummy! thanks for sharing :-)

Joanne said...

How weird to hear that you'd get rid of yeast in this way before Passover! What a strange religious conglomeration there! Yet, how fun to actually try out the traditions for yourself as well...

Cyndy, thanks so much for your kind notes on my blog. To answer your question, actually, my trip to Florida was pretty exhausting. I only snapped photos of the gorgeous parts...and not the constant people interactions. (turns out I really need more time to myself!) However, all the people were well-intentioned. I'm just wiped out though!

Joanne said...

How weird to hear that you'd get rid of yeast in this way before Passover! What a strange religious conglomeration there! Yet, how fun to actually try out the traditions for yourself as well...

Cyndy, thanks so much for your kind notes on my blog. To answer your question, actually, my trip to Florida was pretty exhausting. I only snapped photos of the gorgeous parts...and not the constant people interactions. (turns out I really need more time to myself!) However, all the people were well-intentioned. I'm just wiped out though!

Lisa at Greenbow said...

I would love one of those little cakes. I have never heard of any of these customs. I could just see you outside dancing and leaping up a storm. With your mardis gras beads on of course. tee hee....

Anonymous said...

And most people just go to Dunkin' Donuts!

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