Paczki Day arrives Thursday on campus


Once a year, the smell of paczki donuts fills the student union and the library lobby on McNichols campus.

That day – Paczki Day, Thursday, Feb. 8 – is almost here.

Some people might think it is just an excuse to eat a type of foreign donut but there is much more to it.

Paczkis are actually part of the Polish Catholic tradition.

Paczki donuts are filled with various jellies and creams, like strawberry, prune or even peanut butter.

The significance of the rich, high-calorie treats relates to Fat Thursday (or Fat Tuesday, as it is celebrated in much of America).

The idea plays off the notion that people want to eat whatever foods they prefer before Lent arrives.

(At Lent, some Christians fast or give up a vice, food or luxury in recognition of Jesus Christ’s sacrifices.)

But you needn’t be Polish, Catholic or an observer of Lent to enjoy a paczki.

“In the United States and Canada, Pączki Day is celebrated in cities with a sizeable Polish population, like Chicago, Detroit, and Windsor,” Sister Beth Ann Fister of University Ministry noted in an email. “But the sweet treats are eaten on Shrove Tuesday (or Fat Tuesday) rather than on Fat Thursday like in the old country.”

The arrival of the day sees people from throughout the region driving to the Polish community of Hamtramck, where some believe the best local paczki bakeries are located.

Lines form outside of the bakeries and go down the street.

Jack Harrop, a junior lacrosse player at Detroit Mercy, grew up with this holiday.

“I don’t celebrate it as much anymore,” he said, “but Paczki Day used to be a day I always celebrated with my family. My grandpa used to take us down to Detroit to a good bakery and we would always end up buying a dozen and bringing them back home.”

One year, they waited in line for almost an hour.

“I was a kid so it felt like three hours but the packzi were well worth the wait – by far the best I’ve ever had,” he said.

University Ministry will be bringing the paczkis to campus Thursday and selling them in the student union and McNichols library from 8:30 a.m. until the donuts are gone. The price is $18 a dozen or $1.50 each.