The blessing of the Easter food, or the
'Swieconka' is a tradition that is very dear to the heart of every Pole. He is grateful to God for all his gifts of nature and
grace, and as a token of this gratitude, has the food sanctified
with the hope that when spring comes, the season of the Resurrection, he will also be blessed
by God's goodness and mercy.
Traditions vary from each individual
and each individual family. They have changed and evolved with each passing
generation. Traditionally the food is brought to the church in a basket which
is decorated with a colourful ribbon and sprigs of greenery
are attached, with a linen cover over the top and blessed by the parish
priest on Holy Saturday morning. If it is absolutlay necessary the food can also be blessed at
the blessing, the food is usually set aside until Easter morning when the head
of the house shares the blessed egg, symbol of life, with his family and friends.
Having exchanged wishes they all continue to enjoy the meal.
The foods traditionally
blessed by a priest for Easter can be placed in three categories.
- Easter bread and cakes of all kinds,
particularly a yeasty cake called babka
- Meat products, ham, veal,
suckling pig, sausage, bacon and so on.
- Dairy products, butter, cheese, eggs
- some without their shelles, others decorated (Pisanki).
Each of the foods
has a deep and symbolic meaning
- Butter, this favourite dairy product
is often shaped into a lamb (Baranek Wielkanocny) or into a cross.
This reminds us of the goodness of Christ that we should have toward all
- Babka (Easter bread) - A round loaf
topped with a cross or a fish, symbolic of Jesus, who is our true Bread
- Horseradish with grated red beets
'Chrzan' - Symbolises the Passion of Christ still in our minds
but sweetened with some sugar because of the Resurrection.
- Eggs - (Jajka) - Eggs were
always considered as a symbol of the resurrection, the emergence of a new
life. At Easter our Saviour came forth from the tomb as the chick after
breaking theShell at birth. Because of this special meaning, it is fitting
that Easter eggs be coloured or decorated. They are known as "pisanki."
- Sausage (Kielbasa) - Spicy sausage
made of pork products, indicative of God's favour and generosity.
- Ham (Szynka) - Symbolic of great joy
and abundance. Some prefer lamb or veal. The lamb also reminds Catholics
that the Risen Christ is the 'Lamb of God'.
- Pigs Fat (Slonina) - A symbol of
the overabundance of God's mercy and generosity.
- Salt (Sol) - Necessary element
in our daily life, that Jesus used its symbolism.
- Cheese (Ser) - Shaped into a ball,
it is the symbol of the moderation Christians should have at all times.
In some regions a candle
is also inserted into the basket to represent Christ, the Light of the World.
This centuries old custom
is indeed very symbolic and has a deep spiritual meaning.