Not everyone observes Fat Tuesday. In some cultures that observance is practiced the Thursday prior to the traditional Fat Tuesday experience. While most Americans will celebrate Fat Tuesday today as the traditional final indulgence before the start of Lent - some are already beginning festivities with Fat Thursday. Yes, it's real. Fat Thursday, six days before Ash Wednesday, is the traditional beginning of festivities in many European cultures that lead up to the beginning of Lent, a solemn 40-day period on the Christian calendar. People of Polish heritage are among those who celebrate Fat Thursday. The traditional treat - the Polish jelly doughnut - Pączki - is consumed by all. It is on Fat Thursday/Tuesday that people focus on what ever indulgence they select prior to a period of extended fasting - prayers - alms giving. Today they enjoy - celebrate - tomorrow - Ash Wednesday - they will repent.
For some - filling the stomach with an excess of sweets - then repenting - is how as a community many prepare for a long solemn period of self denial and prayer. With God at our side - this can be one of the best spiritual observances one can participate in.