St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church fasnacht sale returns Feb.10 and 11, with preorders back this year for the first time since 2020 but available to be made on one day only – Monday, Jan. 22.
The sale itself starts at the crack of midnight when Friday, Feb. 9, turns into Sat., Feb. 10, by which point the parish at 120 E. Lehman St., Lebanon will be a hive of activity, with volunteers expected to crank out around 140 dozen fasnachts per hour, donating hundreds of man, woman, and teen-hours in the process. (If you’d like to volunteer, find the signup application here.)
The sale runs all day and all night Saturday, Feb. 10, and will continue running into Sunday, Feb. 11, technically until 5 or 6 p.m. but practically only as long as supplies last.
When we spoke to longtime fasnacht sale volunteer and current event co-chair Ed Hicks last year, he described what goes into stocking the church’s “pantry” for a typical year’s sale – a shopping list that includes 11,000 pounds of flour, over 10,000 eggs, and plenty of margarine, Crisco, and milk to round out the recipe.
The sale took a step up last year in terms of culinary excellence as volunteers implemented digital scales under the guidance of Lebanon County Career & Technology Center’s award-winning pastry instructor Brian Peffley.
Preorders are back this year for the first time since before the COVID-19 pandemic, but will be available only on Monday, Jan. 22, between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m.
To place a preorder, first check the date – if it’s not Monday, Jan. 22, 2024, you’re sadly out of luck. But if it does happen to be Monday, Jan. 22, and between the hours of 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., you can call one of two numbers to place a minimum preorder of six dozen fasnachts ($14 per dozen): 717-273-5971 or 717-273-2432. No online ordering is offered, and volunteers kindly request that you NOT call the parish office to order.
Organizers note that the numbers are likely to be kept busy throughout the preordering period and request your patience and persistence as you place an order.
Preorders must be picked up between 11 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 10, and 9 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 11. A separate entrance will be available for preorder pickups only. Preorders must be paid upon pickup.
If you plan to head out Feb. 10-11 to pick up fasnachts, note that you may want to target off-hours when the lines can be shorter. Walk-in sales will be limited to five dozen or less, also for $14 per dozen.
St. Cecilia’s fasnachts are typically sold with a granulated sugar coating, but you can also request yours to be non-sugared. Fasnachts are customarily prepared and eaten on Shrove Tuesday – Fat Tuesday – the last day before the start of the 40-day Christian observance of Lent. They take their name from a German term meaning “fasting night.”
The tradition arrived in the Lebanon Valley with German immigrants and, according to archival reports in the Lebanon Daily News, was kept alive by the Catholic church. If you haven’t yet read our history on Lebanon’s love affair with fasnachts, bookmark it now; it’s chockfull of interesting facts and history, including the age-old advice of why you might want to dunk the pastry into your coffee “to improve the doughnut, the coffee, and your own temper.”
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