Saturday, April 4, 2015

Celebrating Easter after a long, gray Polish winter is a wonderful way to harken spring.

Luckily, I have witnessed three Easter seasons here in Warsaw. I absolutely love the colorful pisanki (painted eggs) that are sold at small shops and special Easter markets. Now, I have a collection of both wooden and real eggs that will always remind me of our expat years living in Poland. Many of the egg vendors sell these special eggs at my favorite market, Hala Mirowska.

Last year, we watched one of the most celebrated Polish Easter traditions in Warsaw’s Old Town. On the Saturday before Easter Sunday, Poles flock to their local churches, carrying decorative baskets filled with special items to be blessed. The Swieconka tradition means the baskets are lined with a white linen or lace towel and contain eggs, kiebasa, salt, candles, cheese or butter shaped like lambs and more. Each item represents something in the Christian faith.  To see a diagram of Easter basket items and the symbolism, click here.
This year, I made this Easter basket filled with chocolates, salt, cheese, kielbasa, horseradish and other sweets for a Polish friend.
At the church, the priest then sprinkles the individual baskets with Holy Water and gives his blessing in front a crowd. It was cute to watch the young children who are dressed up in their white Easter Sunday dresses or button-down shirts and pants. If you visit Poland during the Easter season, I definitely recommend finding a church to observe this tradition.
Bread shaped like lambs for Easter.
Some of the specialty shops sell the traditional Polish Easter baskets.
Or homemade Polish cheese in the shape of lambs and chickens.
On Palm Sunday, which takes place the weekend before Easter, you’ll find local vendors and even older Polish ladies selling decorative “palms.” Since Poland doesn’t have palm trees, the locals make these palms from dried wheat and flowers, fresh greenery and pussy willow (bazia) branches.   

Then, since many Poles fast during the 40 days of Lent before Easter, the feasting begins in earnest on Easter Sunday. During the week before this, the grocery stores and markets are a frenzy of kielbasa-pork-sweets purchases! Last year, I made Polish zurek soup, which is one of my favorites, for the first time at home. The soup is made from a fermented rye flour base and contains kielbasa and hard-boiled eggs. This article describes in detail the Polish Easter foods and includes some recipes.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
We may not be Polish, but we’ve enjoyed seeing the different Polish Easter traditions here in Warsaw.

Happy Easter and Smacznego! 

My Traveling Joys

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8 comments:

Cuisine de Provence said...

Those eggs are beautiful! Happy easter to you, Joy!

jaz@octoberfarm said...

i remember people doing this with their easter baskets when i was little. i wonder if my paska is an american polish tradition? have a happy easter joy!

Joy said...

I love the eggs too! And Happy Easter to you as well!

Joy said...

@Joyce, I'm also very curious if the paska is either a Polish-American tradition or from another region in Poland?? Have a delicious Easter with your family!

Anna said...

Happy Easter ;) I love Polish Easter and our tradicional meals. I don't know what you mean - what is paska?

Joy said...

Hi Anna! Happy belated Easter to you too! Paska is a Polish-American braided bread served for Easter. The flavor seems to be very similar to the Polish babka cake. :-)

Heather | Ferreting Out the Fun said...

So colorful! And the lamb-shaped foods! Now I know when I'm visiting Poland :-)

Joy said...

@Heather, tak, Easter is a wonderful time to visit Poland! :)

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