During a conversation with some co-workers yesterday, I came to the realization that my world is a little different than others. My girls and I celebrate Chinese New Year by going to the parade (fun!) and eating Chinese food. We make latkes for Hanukkah (though we celebrate in no other ways). We make cookies for Christmas. I grew up celebrating things that others didn't - but I had no idea. Wikipedia knows about them (see definitions below).
For example, until someone asked the question on Facebook, I didn't know that Mischief Night wasn't celebrated all over the country. I knew Detroit did it a little differently (read: scary!). But until the question was asked, I hadn't thought of the fact that I've never seen a yard here covered in toilet paper. Interesting.
The separation of Halloween tricks from treats seems to have only developed sporadically, often appearing in some areas but not at all in others nearby. In Northern New Jersey's Bergen County, Essex County, Hudson County, Morris County, Passaic County, Somerset County, Union County, and parts of Sussex County, it is called "Mischief Night". Also noted in Delaware. In some towns in Northern New Jersey, and parts of New York State, it is known as "Goosey Night". In South Jersey and the Philadelphia region (as well as Westchester County in New York andFairfield County in Connecticut), October 30 is referred to as "Mischief Night", where mischievous teens rub soap bars on car windows, throw eggs at houses, adorn trees with toilet paper, and run away after ringing doorbells. In some areas of Queens, New York, Cabbage Night involved throwing rotten fruit at various neighbors, cars, and buses. Pre-teens and teens would fill eggs with Neetand Nair and throw them at unsuspecting individuals. In the mid-1980s garbage was set on fire and cemeteries were set ablaze. In Camden, New Jersey, Mischief Night had escalated to the point where widespread arsons were committed in the 1990s. Over 130 arsons were committed in that city on the night of October 30, 1991.
I also didn't know until I arrived here that Mardi Gras didn't mean the arrival of Santa to most people. Growing up in Lansdale, I sat through many, many very cold Mardi Gras parades on Main Street, waiting for Santa. I have very happy memories of sitting with my mom and my friends and a big thermos of hot chocolate under a blanket. I miss those parades.
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 23rd @ 1:00 PM
The 63rd annual Mardi Gras Parade will be held downtown Lansdale on Saturday, November 23rd. Parade starts at Main Street and Mitchell Avenue at 1:00 PM and travels east on Main Street to Park Drive.
I also didn't know that the world didn't celebrate Fasnacht Day. Mmmmm......donuts! It's the beginning of Lent. But apparently not nationally, though I did find fasnachts at the grocery store a few years ago here. Actually, it wasn't fasncachts I found. It was paczki. They still count.
Fasnacht, Sometimes spelled Fastnacht, Faschnacht, Fosnot, Fosnaught, Fausnaught, is an English name for a fried doughnut served traditionally in the days of Carnival / Fastnacht or on (Shrove Tuesday), the day before Lent starts. Fasnachts were made as a way to empty the pantry of lard, sugar, fat, and butter, which were traditionally fasted from during Lent.
The Pennsylvania Dutch in the area surrounding Lancaster, Pennsylvania celebrate Fastnacht as well. Most chain supermarkets in eastern Pennsylvania offer fasnachts, although WalMart offers Pączki instead. Pączki are traditionally eaten in Poland on the Thursday prior to Fasnacht Day, although in Polish communities of the US, the tradition is more commonly celebrated on Fasnacht Day. Commonly pączki are round, rather than having straight sides, and they are filled with jelly, or sometimes creme filling.
In parts of Maryland, the treats are called Kinklings, and are only sold in bakeries on Shrove Tuesday. The German version is made from a yeast dough, deep fried, and coated or dusted in sugar or cinnamon sugar; they may be plain or filled with fruit jam. Pennsylvania Dutch fasnachts can often be potato doughnuts, and may be uncoated, dusted with table sugar, or powdered with confectioner's sugar.
The term is synonymous with the Carnival season which is called Fasnacht in southern Germany, Switzerland, Alsace and Austria. Although usually written "Fastnacht", there are many local spoken varieties: Fasnacht, Fassenacht, Fasnet etc.
The word Fastnacht originates from the German words "fast", which is the shortened version of the verb "fasten", which means "to fast", and "Nacht", meaning night, indicating the eve of the traditional Lenten fasting period observed by many Christian denominations. It is the equivalent celebration to Mardi Gras or Carnevale.
A friend told me that when she lived in Ohio, her friends celebrated Sweetest Day. I've never heard of that.
Sweetest Day is a holiday celebrated primarily in the Great Lakes region, and parts of the Northeast United States, on the third Saturday in October. It is described by Retail Confectioners International as an "occasion which offers all of us an opportunity to remember the sick, aged and orphaned, but also friends, relatives and associates whose helpfulness and kindness we have enjoyed." Sweetest Day has also been referred to as a "concocted promotion" created by the candy industry solely to increase sales of sweets. It is also a day to bestow romantic deeds or expressions.
I wonder what other holidays I'm missing.