Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What February 12, 2013 Means to the Clarke

by Bryan Whitledge and Lindsay Gabriel

Tuesday, February 12 marks two events that the Clarke would like to recognize - President Lincoln's 204th birthday and Paczki Day. Because the two events have not much in common, today's blog posting is a 2-for-1 deal.

First, in recognition of the birthday of our 16th President, we are sharing a greeting signed by President Lincoln and dated April 16, 1862. This autograph is one from a collection of every U. S. President's autographs, which is currently on loan at the Clarke Historical Library.

In addition to this item, the Clarke maintains information related to Abraham Lincoln's only speech on Michigan soil, which took place in Kalamazoo on August 27, 1856. Information ranges from microfilm of historical copies of the Kalamazoo Gazette to reprints of the speech published years after Lincoln's assassination.

The second event that we would like to pay homage to is Fat Tuesday and in Michigan, Fat Tuesday means paczkis. The Clarke has a wealth of resources devoted to both Polish culture in Michigan and Michigan cookbooks. Some of these resources cross and in their pages, one can find information about the paczki. Above is a page from Polish Heritage Cookery by Robert and Maria Strybel explaining paczkis.

For the uninitiated, a paczki is pronounced punch-kee. It is a deep-fried dough pastry filled with a sweet filling. Fat Tuesday is the traditional day to eat this calorie-laden treat, which comes from the Polish Catholic tradition of using up all of the food that would be otherwise forbidden during Lent (lard, butter, sugar, eggs, etc.). No matter one's cultural background, Paczki Day is looked forward to by many Michiganders.

Every day at the Clarke has some historical significance and February 12 of 2013 gives us a great excuse to share some of our favorite things with you.