Paczki Day 2011: What You Need To Know (PHOTOS)

While most know today as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, those of Polish descent may know it as Paczki Day.

Paczki Day is described by as simply "excessive consumption of fat, jelly-filled Polish pastries." It is a popular holiday in Ann Arbor, Mich., as well as American cities with large Polish populations such as Chicago, Buffalo and Detroit.

The word Paczki (pronounced POONCH-key), or pączek, is defined by as: "A round Polish pastry similar to a doughnut, usually filled with fruit and topped with sugar or icing." Traditionally, Paczki Day originated due to the need to use up lard, sugar and eggs prior to Lent, which begins the day after.

Want to participate by eating paczki? You can check food review websites like to search for locations selling paczki near you. If you prefer to make your own, you can find paczki recipes here and here.

You can also follow Paczki Day today a number of ways online. Many news sites with significant Polish populations have extensive coverage, and even has a "paczki cam" with live video of paczki from the Bay City Times in Michigan.

Take a look at photos of paczki below and vote on your favorites.

Paczki Day (PHOTOS)