Blessing of the Easter Basket Foods
The blessing of the Easter foods is a tradition dear to the hearts of every Polish family. Being deeply religious, they are grateful to God for all His gifts of both nature and grace. As a token of this gratitude, they have the food of their table sanctified with the hope that spring, the season of the Resurrection, will also be blessed by God’s goodness and mercy.
Baskets containing a sampling of Easter foods are brought to church to be blessed on Holy Saturday. The basket is traditionally lined with a white linen or lace napkin and decorated with sprigs of boxwood (bukszpan), the typical Easter evergreen.
The blessed foods and their symbolic meanings are:
- Egg (pisanka)—Symbol of life and rebirth.
- Sausage (kielbasa) or ham—All types of pork were forbidden under the dietary code of the Old Testament (Leviticus 11.7). The coming of Christ was seen as exceeding the old law and the dietary items now became acceptable (Mark 7.19).
- Paschal lamb—It can be made of butter, cake or even plaster. It is the centrepiece of the meal. Christ is seen as the “Lamb of God.”
- Horseradish/pepper—Symbolize the bitter herbs of the Passover and the Exodus.
- Salt—Joins bread in Polish tradition as a sign of hospitality.
- Bread—Christ has been called “the Bread of Life.”
- Vinegar—Symbolizes the gall given to Christ at the crucifixion.
- Wine—Symbolizes the blood of sacrifice spilled by Christ at the crucifixion.
One of the best-known Easter symbols is the egg, which has symbolized renewed life since ancient days. The egg is said to be a symbol of life because in all living creatures life begins in the egg. The Persians and Egyptians also colored eggs and ate them during their new year’s celebration, which came in the spring.
Today many people still color Easter eggs and decorate them with fancy patterns and symbols. The sun symbolizes good fortune; the rooster, fulfillment of wishes; the deer, good health; the flowers, love and charity.