Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Fat Thursday - Catholic feast day to celebrate the start of Lent and
open Carnival weekend
Jueves Lardero, known in English as Fat Thursday is a traditional Catholic feast day marking the last Thursday before Lent and is often associated with the celebration of Carnival.
Woah! Fat? Thursday? This is clearly unacceptable in our fevered atmosphere of political correctness...
Well not really, the word "Fat" can also be translated as "Lard" and refers to the use of cooking fats rather than an insult to people who may be on the rotund end of the scale.
Oh, ok, Lardero is Lard I can see that.
Yeah, I think "Fat Thursday" developed because of that Anglo-Saxon habit to pursue alliteration. So, much like Shrove Tuesday in Britain, it represents the celebration prior to the period of traditional fasting in the lead up to Easter.
With a title like that it comes as no surprise it is related to food indulgence.
Indeed, across Europe the day is celebrated with sweet dishes , pastries, donut styled cakes, sponge cakes and so on, here in Aragon it is a day to eat a special type of sausage called a Longaniza (specifically from Graus) whereas in Catalonia, they eat Bunyols, sweet or savoury dough balls.
So is there any more to it?
To be honest, not really. Families get together, stroll in the open air, indulge in the eating of Longaniza in baps, like a kind of Hispanic hot dog and surely, tortilla and gambas sneak in somewhere. There are communal distributions of these sausage sandwiches around the city and the events tend to be the launch of carnival celebrations.
Communal distribution of sausages?
That's right, you can get a free Longaniza Bocadillo if you are prepared to queue alongside the rest of the city population in the park and through the surrounding streets.
Not quite as homely as flipping pancakes at home then?
Not really, this is all just the entre though, it is a common tradition to conclude Carnival proceedings with the "Burial of the Sardine"
Wait? The what now?
Hold on, things are about to take a step towards the 'unusual.' This pagan festival of fire and mad costumes represents the victory of Don Carnal over Doña Lent. The festival is whipped into a frenzy by the 'Grupo de Sardineros' who get everyone thoroughly excited. The Sardineros elect a woman to play Doña Sardina who then reads the last will and testament of the sardine from the balcony of the town hall.
So, there really is a sardine....and it has a 'will' you say?
Are you mad?! Of course there's a sardine. Beginning to understand where Dali got his ideas from? A huge procession of brass bands, dancers, people on stilts, floats covered in motif's and bewildered tourists makes it's way to the town hall where the sardine is finally burnt. Then comes Ash Wednesday, which is a whole different kettle of sardines.
I think I'll stick with pancakes