Cultural: Easter traditions in Poland
This is a repost of one I wrote earlier about how Easter is celebrated in Poland.
Easter in Poland is rich in tradition. They vary from fasting (from meat and sweets) in the days just prior to Easter Sunday to carrying napkin lined baskets with food to the church to be blessed. Many of the traditions seem to revolve around food.
When we were first here in Poland, on the Saturday before Easter, I saw our neighbors put a basket into the trunk of their car and then drive off. I saw others on the street carrying baskets. I thought, "Wow, it must be tradition to have a picnic today!"
Now that I know what's happening, that was humorous thinking. But it is what I thought at the time. I still remember looking out our window in our first house and wondering what was going on.
Later I found out that they take the food that they are planning on eating on Easter Sunday morning and put it into the basket - included are bread, sausage, eggs, salt, etc. and then they take it to their local Roman Catholic Church on Saturday in order to have the priest bless it.
Besides the things shown should be included is a ram with a ribbon around its neck - either in the form of bread or made of sugar.
I was in the store the other day when I saw this one
The eggs that go into the basket are often painted or colored or both. Since most of our eggs that we get in the stores here are brown, the colors tend to be dark. You can also buy some packets of covers or dye, just like in the states. Sometimes people use natural dyes, such as onion skins, etc.
They are supposed to fast from meat and sweets on these days before Easter, and then on Easter Sunday morning, they are free to eat white/red meat such as chicken/pork and beef. Before that, they are allowed fish. I think. If I'm wrong, someone can correct me on whether they can eat fish before Easter. It could be even that is restricted.
The Catholics here are often more committed to this kind of dietary restrictions more than I ever heard of in the states. Of course, I didn't know many Catholics in the USA. I'm sure that some eat and just don't talk about it--feeling guilty the whole time. My source did tell me that people under 14 and over 60 are exempt from fasting restrictions.
I was in the post office also the other day to mail something to the states, and saw this display. I was in a hurry, so it wasn't the best picture - but they had this rack of Easter No doubt it would be considered a serious violation of the separation of church and state.
Now in 2019, yesterday (Good Friday) we did try out our local McDonalds - the ones that is about 1 mile from our house and there were a few more people there than I thought there would be. I saw several only eating fries or drinking coffee—but on the other hand, I saw several with full meals as well. I didn’t see many whole families, though. What there were was a lot of young people again.
People are really busy getting ready for Easter - or else still at work as Good Friday isn’t an official holiday, though, of course, it is a religious holiday. I didn’t see anyone eat FishMacs either - thought maybe that would be the case as I’ve noticed that before on Fridays here - people in front of us getting a FishMac , that is. (I’ve never had one.)
Now, back to traditions……..
Breakfast on Easter Sunday morning is a family affair. They eat about 10 or 11 am, and make it a big meal, but not too big, for they eat a large dinner of goose, duck, ham, chicken, etc. later in the day. Once again, family is all gathered together.
They do use these religious holidays to get together as a family. Sometimes that is easily done as they all live nearby, but other times, they have to travel quite a ways to get "home" to mom and dad. Unfortunately because of the increased road traffic, we also tend to see many more traffic accidents surrounding these holidays.
As to church - a faithful Catholic will attend daily mass from Wednesday on until Sunday. On Sunday, there is a special Easter service at 6 am for those who can make it. This service has a lot of singing and is very happy. This is what my son's orthodontist told me, anyway. On Friday night there is a special parade where thousands of people walk the "stations of cross" in downtown Warsaw. This will take about 2 1/2 hours.
All stores will be closed on Easter Sunday and also the day after Easter Sunday. Most stores actually close on Sat. about 2 or 4 pm so everyone can go home and get ready for the holiday.
No matter if you've got a freshly cleaned house or not, a newly washed car or not, a huge breakfast or a tiny one, new clothes or not, well or sick, are alone or with family or friends, I hope you have a wonderful Resurrection Sunday tomorrow!