31 Mar 2013

Remembering a Polish Easter...

Originally posted April 13th 2009. I'm reposting this now because I think it will interest some of you who didn't read it back in the day! Happy Easter to all! :o)

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All this Easter talk and reading (I've been visiting other blogs) has reminded me that I discovered some new (for me) Easter traditions when I was visiting friends on a wonderful trip to Poland several years ago and I'd like to share them (and some of my photos from the trip, click on them for bigger views) here with you.

Statue of Pope John Paul II in Warsaw


Some of my readers have mentioned Spain as a very Catholic country, but it's nothing when compared to Poland! I think politics might have something to do with that... religion managed to get itself associated with the Franco dictatorship in Spain, and when the country finally made its way to democracy many people outrightly rejected the Church because of this association. In Poland on the other hand, also under authoritarian rule -but Communist, so atheist- keeping hold of one's religion was like an act of defiance. Of course having a beloved (world-wide) Pope for a couple of decades doesn't hurt... ;o) I was in Poland just a year after his death... and there wasn't a town I visited without at least one plaza named after him, usually with a statue, all of them surrounded by flowers and candles.


But back to Easter! The churches I visited during Holy Week all had sections closed off to tourists where the faithful knelt in prayer while waiting their turn for confession. They don't do processions like in Spain, but as of Good Friday church chapels are arranged to represent Christ's tomb.

in Plock
in Czerwinsk





And in towns (dunno about in big cities) there is a traditional blessing by the parish priest of decorated "Easter" basket that contain food (representative of various staple foods: bread, salt, sausage, eggs, a sweet) and water.





I participated in this last part while I was with my friends, who live just outside of Warsaw, on Easter weekend. We went to a friend's house (the mayor of the neighbouring town) on the Saturday of Easter weekend and placed our basket among others (lots of people there) on the dining room table for the priest to bless.



The food in the basket became part of the Easter Sunday meal (a very lavish one, with lots of attention to detail both in the meal and the table setting), particularly the "Easter Egg" (your basic hard-boiled egg; there are also lavishly decorated Easter eggs which are used to decorate the house, but not in the basket) which was divided up and a piece handed out to each of us by the head of the household.


So there's my final Easter story of the year. Hope you found it interesting! :o)

11 comments:

  1. Beautiful pictures. I opened them up so they would be bigger, and just loved all the color. I also think the tradition of blessing the Easter baskets is lovely.

    Thanks for sharing!

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  2. It's definitely a very colourful country! And very friendly too... well worth another visit someday (if I can find the right combination of time + money)

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  3. Sounds like Harvest festival time in the UK except the baskets are sent to charities. It's funny how different holidays are more important in different countries - makes it very interesting for the casual observer at any rate!

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  4. Your blog has so many nice photos. I think I like these the best. I am half Polish and grew up with many of these traditions. :)

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  5. Hi Tom! Thx for stopping by with such nice words!

    Half-Polish? Must make for some interesting family traditions! It's definitely a beautiful country with a rich cultural heritage! :o)

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  6. I would like to visit sometime. Thanks for the inspiration. PS I am 1/2 south american (ecuador).

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  7. Vaya, vaya! 1/2 Polaco - 1/2 Ecuatoriano... una mezcla más rara aún que mi 1/2 Gringa - 1/2 Española!

    You should go someday, plan on spending a month (it's huge!), and don't go in the winter (hace un frrrrio...). I hope you speak some Polish, it would definitely be a big help! ;o)

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  8. I love the idea of the baskets being blessed and they are all so beautiful.

    I hope you had a wonderful weekend and holiday.

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  9. I am always interested in learning about different countries traditions, so was delighted to come across this post, when I called by for a catch up today. Thanks for your kind words on my own blog recently which are so very much appreciated.

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  10. Funny- just before reading your post I was reading an article that said that an international survey showed that the US was the most religious country in the industrialized world. Funny too that it is the one with more fatalities from gun violence as well – don’t know what it means. Another international survey showed that the happiest countries were Sweden, Denmark and Norway – which are the least religious – interesting. Anyway I like learning about all the various religion traditions. I know there are many Jews and Muslims in Spain – do they have also special religious traditions there?

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  11. It's great to see that traditions are kept a live, here Easter is mainly around the chocolate but not much tradition around it anymore

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Hey there! Yes you! The quiet one in the back... I'd love it if you hung out for a bit and shared your thoughts!

I might stop by your place with an answer, but I'm more likely to reply right here so click on "email follow up comments" if you'd like to see what I and others have to say and come continue the conversation! ;o)