Easter in Poland is as festive as Christmas, although people are only free from work on Easter and the second day of Easter. The shops are open all week, some shops are also open on Saturday mornings.
But you can feel the Easter atmosphere throughout the week already from Palm Sunday. There is baked, fried and made spring clean for the big party.
Palm Sunday offers the tradition of making or buying one “palm tree”, which in the Polish version is just a kind of bouquet of newborn goslings and embellished with cranberry berries. These symbolic “palm trees” is taken to church and blessed by the service that day, and afterwards placed in a vase in the living room.
During the Easter week, a lot happens in the Catholic Church every day, especially in the evening. But the most significant evening, however, is Good Friday. In each church there will be a worship service with a procession to remind the Catholics of the suffering and death of Christ. at the special stations that extend in the hilly terrain over several kilometers. The locals actively participate in this ecclesiastical performance where people are dressed up as Christ and Romans and perform the scenes we know from the Bible. It is also a major tourist attraction.
On Easter Saturday, each household fills a basket “pisanki”, i.e. hard boiled eggs where the shell is colored or painted.
There are many ways to color Easter eggs. You can use the brownish peel of onions and boil it with the eggs, then they will be colored brownish dark red. You can color the eggs green by boiling them together with green cereal sprouts. You can also cook them with beets. Someone is still painting patterns on the shell.
In the Easter basket there should also be a piece of bread, salt, horseradish, an Easter lamb of sugar (or chocolate or as a cake) and what else you think, for example: a piece of sausage, a piece of cake. The basket is usually decorated with cranberry berries and covered with a nice napkin.
If there are young children in the household, it is usually those who bring the basket to church. Here, the priest splashes water on the brought baskets, ie. blesses the content.
Once this ritual is completed, you can start celebrating Easter.
Until now, the entire Easter week was to be fasted according to the Catholic Church's recommendations. It is no longer observed as strictly as before, but most fast for Good Friday; here you eat fish instead of meat.
The most solemn time of Easter is at breakfast Easter morning.
The food that has been blessed in the church on Saturday is put on a platter, the peel is peeled from the eggs and they are split so that everyone can have a piece. The housewife first treats with the blessed foods and wishes “Happy Easter”. Afterwards, you eat a sumptuous breakfast for a long time.
This day is a very big party and family day.
Monday, 2nd Easter Sunday is a little different, and here you start the day with a special custom.
The custom is called “smigus-Dyngus” and assumes that everyone tries to be the first one in the morning to surprise the others and spray some cold water on them while yelling: smigus-dyngus.
This custom is also found in another edition where one whips one another on the legs with small twigs of birch. The practice with the water is most prevalent in central and southern Poland, while birch twigs are practiced in northern Poland.
The pretty, young girls are most exposed to this custom when they go to and from church that day.
Young men want to surprise them with water guns, jugs and even entire buckets of water. On this day, it is permissible to make jokes that way, and one can run the risk of meeting boys and young men armed with water on every street corner and throughout the day.
It is on Monday that you invite guests or visit.
At Easter you get good food in copious quantities. According to the Easter tradition, the special cakes for the tea or coffee table must not be missing. Throughout Poland, you make or buy a high round cake: “Babka”. In central Poland, in addition to this, a cake called “Mazurek”, which is a flat cake with lots of glaze in many colors and with patterns in the glaze depicting e.g. a hare, a daffodil, goslings, lambs or other Easter symbols.
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Screenplay for radio interview 18.3.2005
Translated into English by Google Translate. Spangshus.dk accept no liability for any errors or omissions in translation.