With deep roots in Germany, Fastnacht Day is a pre-Lenten celebration that takes place the day before Ash Wednesday.

Fastnacht means “fast” and “night” in German. In Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, Fastnacht represents an entire season of festivities leading up to Shrove Tuesday. The traditions are rooted in the same pre-Lenten celebrations that have taken place for centuries. Those fasting for Lent used up the rich foods they would be giving up in a feast.

One of the traditional items to come out of the celebration was a pastry made from potatoes and yeast. This delicious doughnut known as fastnacht came the U.S. by way of the Pennsylvania Dutch. In their settlements, the pastry is one of the principal food traditions. The sweet treat is often cut into a triangle or square. Along with fastnacht, the celebration in Pennsylvania Dutch country includes a sumptuous feast before the long 40 days fast.

HOW TO OBSERVE #FastnachtDay

Make fastnacht to celebrate. Or, enjoy a fastnacht from a local baker and take part in fastnacht festivities. Share where you get your fastnacht and use #FastnachtDay to post on social media.


Fastnacht Day is entwined with other similar pre-Lenten holidays such as Fat Tuesday and Paczki Day.

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