Yesterday is one of my favorite days of the year. It’s Packzi Day! (Ummm for those of you not from the Chicago area, as I think this is a Polish imigrant custom that hasn’t translated much elsewhere, that’s “Poohnch-khee” Day.) You can get them at the local grocery store, but they’re much better from a bakery, and from a particular bakery near me, too. These are so much better than the King Cakes of New Orleans’ Mardi Gras or the Pancakes of Shrove Tuesday. Much better.
And I almost forgot about them. It’s been a busy couple weeks, but luckily I remembered yesterday just before lunchtime. I took Mister Man with me to help choose what flavors we want.
Oh yeah. The flavors. These hugely filled donut-like creations (the only time a year I have any interest in donuts) come in everything from pineapple to strawberries and whipped cream to prune to strawberry jam and more. Way, way more. Granted, they aren’t traditionally all these flavors — fruit is traditional, but the other kinds are way yummy.
On the way to the bakery to get our Packzis, I asked Mister Man if he remembered Packzi Day from last year. He didn’t really remember it, so I explained that we only have these on one special day a year. Packzi Day is just one special Tuesday.
So he asked why. Of course.
Me: Well, do you remember learning about Easter in Sunday School?
Mister Man: Ummm, yeah.
Me: Well, tell me what you remember about Easter.
Mister Man: That’s when Jesus was killed. And then three days later there was a miracle and He came back to life.
Me: Right. And do you know why He did that?
Mister Man: No.
Me: Well, He loved us so much that he sacrificed himself for us and allowed himself to be killed so that we can all go to Heaven if we believe and are good during our lives. Because He let Himself be killed, we never have to worry again.
Mister Man: Oh.
Me: And for forty days before Easter, we think about what Jesus did for us because we know that Easter is coming, and we want to remember what a great thing He did for us. Those forty days are called Lent.
Mister Man: Uh-huh.
Me: And the day before the beginning of Lent is called Fat Tuesday.
Mister Man: Why do they call it Fat Tuesday?
Me: Well, Mister Man, if you knew that during this serious time of thinking you weren’t going to be able to celebrate or do or eat fun things, wouldn’t you maybe want to have one last night of fun before you start getting serious?
Mister Man: You mean I can’t do fun things anymore?
Me: No, not exactly. Awhile ago, though, people took Lent much more seriously than they do now. They didn’t eat meat for the whole forty days. They didn’t eat at all on some days — that’s called fasting. Nowadays people usually choose one thing to give up for Lent.
Mister Man: Like what?
Me: Well, some people give up candy or cakes or chewing gum or watching tv or other things like that.
Mister Man: So today is the last day I can eat any candy?
Me: Only if that’s what you decide you want to give up.
There was silence for a few moment.
Mister Man: Mommy, I think I’m going to give up my mouthwash for Lent.
Me: Generally, sweetie, you try to give up things you really love for Lent so that it’s a sacrifice. Kind of remembering that Jesus made a really big sacrifice for us. You don’t have to give up something this year, but maybe in a couple years when you’re a little older you can start giving things up for Lent.
Mister Man: Ok. But I want to count the days of Lent. Each day I’m going to announce what day it is.
Me: That’s a good idea. Some people make little calendars for Lent and mark off each day as it passes.
Mister Man: No, I just want to announce it.
The car was silent again for awhile. Then, a shout.
Mister Man: ONE!
Right. That’ll teach me to try to explain the concept of Lent and Fat Tuesday to a five year old. And I still haven’t figured out what I’m doing for Lent. Maybe I’ll just give up sleep….