Fastnacht Day: Success!

food

Friends, I did not make it to Egypt Star yesterday, but I did succeed in my primary goal, which was to enjoy a genuine Lehigh Valley Fastnacht (plain) at Mary Ann Donut Kitchen. Like most people in Allentown, I love Mary Ann Donuts.  They are the best and most authentic of all Allentown pastries.  As Linus Van Pelt might say, they are sincere.

While Mary Ann usually has a huge variety of freshly-made donuts, bagels, and crullers on hand, the only offerings yesterday were three varieties of the traditional Pennsylvania German pre-Lenten pastry.  Reports from early in the morning had Fastnacht-seekers lining out the door for over two hours.  By the time of my visit around 1 PM, the place was still full and still filling.

My Fastnacht was excellent, by the way.  An added bonus: Mary Ann’s always delightful staff were wearing special shirts that read:

FASTNACHT DAY

POWDERED

SUGARED

PLAIN

Perfect.

Happy Fastnacht Day!

food, spirituality

Maybe you call it Fat Tuesday or Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras.  In these parts, friend, it’s Fastnacht Day.  My pledge to you, dear reader, is that I will not repeat last year’s poor showing.  Not only will I enjoy fastnachts (yes, plural) today, but I will be enjoying them from Mary Ann Donut Kitchen.  Holler if you know what’s up.   I may also venture to Egypt Star Bakery so as to get the most fat for my Tuesday.

This is a big deal.  As I said last year, we used to even get faschnats in elementary school.   Enjoy yours early and often.  Then get your butt to church on Wednesday for the imposition of ashes.

I never used to take part in that particular Lenten tradition, but I did it last year from a place of feeling like I really needed to do something different, even if only provisional, to connect with the Holy.

Ashes imposed on the forehead of a Christian o...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been on a long, interesting journey since then.  I’m not ashamed to drop the qualifier “provisional” from my status as Christian, so long as epistemological humility isn’t breached.  But I’m still more apt to describe my faith in Conan O’Brien terms than, say, the limiting language you might hear in some Christian quarters.  Even so, even so, I find myself much more interested in the mystical traditions than ever before, much more at home around ritual and structure so long as I can approach them, too, from a place of humility and from a recognition that God is bigger than the things we do and that when God meets us in those things, it’s because God is God, not because we’ve done something cosmically essential.  But it’s also true that our drive to meet God in places carved out by tradition echos something cosmically essential: an understanding that we want and need the mystical, the holy; a hope the God will meet us wherever it is we seek to find.

For me, the power of Christian ritual has absolutely nothing to do with it being set down by patriarchs with apostolic authority or some other contrived historiography that super-values the existential (and perhaps compulsive) needs of long-dead saints.  For me, our rituals, like our stories, are opportunities to embrace the basic Christian claim: the in-breaking of God at every turn, the furious longing on God’s part for time and eternity with us.

Oh boy. This post was supposed to be about donuts.  More to come on Huffington, I think.

Happy Faschnat Day!