Today, we took our basket in for the traditional Easter blessing of the baskets, or Święconka, in Polish.
This remains one of my favourite family traditions, and is beloved by many, with blessings happening today at the local Ukrainian church as well.
Before we moved and were living in a city, we had found a Polish church to take our baskets to; they started at noon, with blessings every half hour until 3!
As you can see in the above photo, people bring baskets of all shapes and sizes, and have all sorts of things in them, including fruit, berries, candles and bottles of wine.
This is our basket.
Everything in it is symbolic, beginning with the bread itself, which symbolizes Jesus, the “bread of life.” Eggs, of course, are a big part of the basket, and they symbolize the resurrection and new life. Here, we have the pink pickled eggs, kraszanki, (onion skin dyed) and tea dyed eggs; after partially cooking them, the shells are cracked, then added back to the water with a mixture of black tea, soy sauce, five spice mix and sugar and simmered for up to 3 hours. When the peels are removed, the eggs have lovely patterns on them where the shells had been cracked.
Other traditional items, and their meanings, are sausage (God’s favour and generosity), ham (great joy and abundance), bacon (we used prosciutto, symbolizing God’s generosity and mercy), butter (to remind us of the goodwill we should have to all things), horseradish (to remind us of the Passion of Christ – often as a paste mixed with beet juice, the sweetness of which is a reminder of the joy of the resurrection – we used beet juice in the egg pickling liquid), salt (prosperity and justice, and a reminder to be the “salt of the earth” and cheese (moderation). In addition, we included olive oil (with the marinaded cheese) and olives, symbolizing wisdom, peace, hope and light. There is some white wine vinegar, to represent the “sour wine” Jesus was given just before he gave up his spirit, and mustard, as a reminder of how a mustard seed was used by Jesus as a metaphor for faith.
All of this will now wait to be eaten tomorrow morning, as we celebrate Easter together.
May you and your loved ones have a blessed Easter.