Today, 25 February, is the day before the season of Lent starts in the Christian calendar. Lent is the 40 day period of fasting that traditionally precedes Easter. Many cultures have a history of one last big orgy of meat and fatty foods, accompanied with disguises (masks or costumes) and an upheaval in social order, before the start of the fasting times. Carnival in countries with a high Catholic presence (the largest being the queen of Carnivals that is Rio); Fastelavn in Lutheran countries (for example, Denmark); Mardi Gras or Shrove Tuesday for other Protestants (Pancake Day in the UK); Maslenitsa or Butter Lady/Week in Orthodox countries.

In Austria, we have Fasching, centred around Fastnachtssonntag, Rosenmontag and Faschingsdienstag. Everyone gets dressed up in silly costumes (think Halloween but without the need for fake blood), joins big parties, attends parades and eats lots of krapfen. These are hole-less doughnuts usually filled with apricot jam and dusted with icing sugar, supposedly invented when bread rolls accidently fell into hot lard. Hopefully you’ll get a chance to eat one during Fasching in Austria soon!

Faschingskrapfen in my local bakery

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