Reader, Martha Wisniewski, sent us this most interesting run-down on a Polish Easter tradition...preparation of and the blessing of baskets.
In Poland and perhaps other Eastern European countries they prepare a special Easter Basket to be blessed by the Priest on Holy Saturday. The people work all week on the food for Easter, but until after Holy Saturday none can be eaten.
I asked Canon Avis if he would bless a basket if I brought one. He will. It is a wonderful tradition for a family to assemble and discuss what is put into the basket.
Items for the basket:
Colored eggs. In Poland they can be painted and carved wooden eggs, but most times it is the Pisanki eggs. These are the ones dipped in a succession of color and then the color covered in wax, then the next color, then more wax until the egg is completely covered in wax. Then the wax is removed to reveal the designs. The designs also have various symbolic meanings. There are also Skrobanki eggs where a design was scratched on to them. Oklejanki eggs are ones with a succession of papers glued and sealed.
You would have sausage, ham, bread, butter, salt and horseradish. Flowers from your garden, perhaps a bottle of wine if your basket is large enough.
Eggs: symbolize life, spring and the Resurrection.
Bread: Christ, who is the bread of Life
Sausage/Ham: the abundance and God's generosity.
Horseradish: the passion of Christ
Butter: good will. It usually pressed into a mold to make a lamb. As Jesus is the Lamb of God
Flowers: Joy (whatever you have blooming, pussy willows are good too)
You line your basket with fine small linens (large napkin size), stitched with flowers or religious symbols. Keep covered until they are ready to be blessed.
At home after your basket has been blessed, boiled eggs in the shells are cut into wedges. The head of the family carries a plate to each member of the family to take a piece of the egg and wish a Happy Easter.
Easter Monday is known as Smigus Dyngus or Wet Monday where people will sprinkle or completely douse each other with water. Why? Because Prince Mieszko was married and baptized on Easter Monday in 966 and the whole nation was baptized along with him.
In Poland Easter is celebrated all week long. Not just on Sunday.
Since Poland does not have palm trees they use straw to fashion flowers, dye them and weave wheat as well. Those are blessed and used on Palm Sunday and can also be placed in your basket.