Sunday, April 8, 2012

Easter Sunday – Niedziela Wielkanocna, Święto Zmartwychwstania Pańskiego

by Staś Kmieć
for the full article - Easter Traditions: The Holy Week – Wielki Tydzień check the April issue of The Polish American Journal
The celebration begins with a solemn Resurrection Mass, followed by Easter breakfast (Święcone). It was imperative that every member of the family have a taste of all the blessed foods and tradition forbids women to cook during this day, so all the food is prepared during the week before.

The table is covered with a white cloth and the centerpiece is the Easter lamb (angusek from the Latin Angus). The custom of setting the table with a lamb holding a red flag was introduced in the sixteenth century by Pope Urban V in the 16th century. Today, a Polish red and white banner is sometimes used.

A single blessed egg is divided and shared with each person at the table to ensure health, happiness and prosperity. Biały barszcz (white soup) is served with hard-boiled eggs and often meats, white cheese and horseradish from the Easter basket are added. A variety of sausages, sliced cold meats and roasted meats are served, along with side dishes such as: pickled mushrooms (grzybki marynowane) and beet and horseradish relish (ćwikła). Cakes include mazureka decorative, flat cake covered with almond paste and other nuts, colorfully iced and decorated with jam, nuts and raisins, sernik cheesecake, and in southern regions – piróg cake with a rice or kasza filling.
The traditional tall babka egg bread, which is baked in a scalloped form, is wonderfully light with a slightly sweet flavor. Using a similar recipe is the paska bread with its intricately-crafted braided top. In Podlasie and southern regions, a sponge cake known as sękacz is baked above a flame on a rotary spit. As a result of pouring layers of dough on the spit, its spikey form resembles a pine tree.

Traditional games using eggs are enacted such as: rolling eggs on the table, or walatka or wybitka – gently tapping the eggs thus scoring points and wins, for the longest period without a crack. A hill rolling game occurred in Upper Śląsk; while in Śląsk and Pomorze, according to German custom, baskets were prepared with surprises for the children.