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A knead to keep tradition

February 25, 2004|by WANDA T. WILLIAMS

wandaw@herald-mail.com

Local bakers kneaded mountains of dough and worked around the clock, cooking thousands of square-shaped fastnachts, doughnuts traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday.

Juggling customers at the rate of about 80 an hour, staff at Sanders Cookie Jar Bakery, on Pennsylvania Avenue in Hagerstown, sold 800 dozen fastnachts before noon Tuesday, owner Perry Sanders said.

Several customers defined Fastnacht Day as a mixture of cultural and religious tradition.

"We're Catholic, and it's a family tradition," said Patti Leazier of Clear Spring. "It represents getting rid of old fat. Cleaning out the grease or lard and starting new."

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Leazier, who works in Hagerstown, picked up a box of fastnachts to share with co-workers. She said she looked forward to joining her family later to sample her mother's homemade fastnachts.

Fastnacht Day is observed in many communities, but it's also referred to as Shrove Tuesday and Fat Tuesday, said the Rev. George Limmer of St. Mary Catholic Church in Hagerstown.

Shrove Tuesday comes the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is a 40-day period between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday observed by Christians as a season of fasting and penitence.

Some said Fastnacht Day is a local tradition linked to the Dutch and German settlers to the area.

"I grew up in Baltimore, where we called it doughnut day," Limmer said.

"During Lent, it was always traditional to have fasting and abstinence, so on Fat Tuesday people feasted and stuffed themselves," he said.

Cooking doughnuts was a way to use up all the fat meat and avoid the temptation of snacking for people trying to fast during Lent, he said.

"It's a day of celebration in preparation, the last blowout before you begin the season of Lent," said the Rev. Chris Moore of St. Joseph's Catholic Church in Hagerstown.

A day earlier, customers formed a steady line of traffic squeezing down a narrow alley leading to Krumpe's Do-Nut Shop on Maryland Avenue in Hagerstown.

By Monday afternoon sales were brisk.

"Last year, we sold over 5,000 dozen on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. It looks like we're going to do a lot more," said Max Krumpe, son of co-owner Rudolph Krumpe.

Meanwhile, customers like Steve McAbee, of Hagerstown, celebrated Fastnacht Day for the very first time - but not for Lent.

"I think it's a great idea, any excuse to eat something we all enjoy - we'll work on our diets later," said McAbee and co-worker Deanna Kunkel, who ordered three dozen of the doughnuts for their office from Sanders Cookie Jar Bakery.

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