Saturday, April 7, 2012

Holy Saturday – Wielka Sobota

by Staś Kmieć
for the full article - Easter Traditions: The Holy Week – Wielki Tydzień check the April issue of The Polish American Journal
The blessing of water, fire, thorns and food takes place on this day. In Poland, blessing of the baskets is a practice
dating to the 15th century or earlier, and one which is still maintained by Polish families today. The mother of the family or an older child carries a basket filled with Easter offerings to be blessed by the parish priest. Holy water for home use can be taken from the church.
Historically, only the rich had food blessed in their homes, while the poorer rural and urban population wrapped food and traveled to churches, where the priest blessed them. The poorest brought only bread, salt and eggs. The richer set their entire tables to be blessed directly. In rural areas, the size and contents of a basket was a matter of pride and standing in the community.
The Easter lamb made of butter, sugar, pastry, marzipan, clay, plaster, blown glass, or wood stands for Jesus, the Paschal lamb. The hard-cooked eggs symbolize new life or Christ rising from his tomb. Bread represents the bread of life given by God. Meat and sausages are symbols of the resurrected Christ, horseradish acknowledges accepting the bitter with the sweet in life. Salt is to add zest to life and preserve us from corruption.
Liturgically speaking, Holy Saturday lasts until 6 pm or dusk, after which the Easter Vigil
is celebrated. The service begins with a fire and the lighting of the new Paschal candle. During the "Gloria,” the church statues and icons, which had been covered during Passiontide, are
dramatically unveiled, the organ plays and bells ring once again.