Easter – Polish Traditions

When I think about Easter I am thinking colourful eggs, tons of delicious food, “wet Monday”, but most of all my family, all together enjoying the holidays.

Easter is the oldest and most important Christian holiday. It commemorates the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Holy Week – a week before Easter Holidays – is spent on remembering the most important events in Christian faith. Easter does not have a set date, it is a movable holiday and it can occur anytime between 22-03 and 25-04.

Holy Friday is a day of total fasting. We are getting ready for a holiday and many of us will take part in Stations of the Cross. Most of us, this day will make our Easter eggs. They can have many colours depending what we use in the preparation process but most common are onion peels, which will allow us to achieve a deep brown colour on the egg. Once our eggs have a base colour, we can start the decoration process. The most popular way of decorating eggs is “drapanka”, which is made by scratching the surface of the egg to reveal the original colour of the shell, while creating the desired pattern. Second method is so called “pisanka” – on a clean and uncoloured egg we draw patterns with wax, once this is done the egg is going into the dye bath – the waxed part will stay white while the rest gets coloured thus revealing our creation.

Saturday – it is time to get our food blessed. Every family will prepare a food basket, containing the most important food – eggs, a piece of ham or a sausage, cheese, salt, pepper, Easter cake, some sweets and we will march to the church to get our food blessed. After this is done, our fasting is over and we can begin to enjoy the Easter celebrations.

Easter Sunday – it is the first day of the Polish Easter Holidays. It will start with a mass, followed by a ceremonial family breakfast. Our Easter breakfast starts with sharing food, which was blessed the day before. Whatever was in the basket will be equally divided between family members attending the breakfast. Before we eat, we will all make wishes to each other – we walk around the table so we can be sure that no one is left behind, this is symbol of friendship and good will for the year to come. Best wishes out of the way, now we eat! One of our many traditions is the famous “egg on egg fight”. Every family member can pick his egg. The goal is to find the strongest egg from them all. We would pair up and try to beat our opponents’ egg (we would strike our egg into the opponents’ egg – everyone has 2 goes, as we strike both the top and bottom part of the eggs). Whoever has a whole egg in the end of all the rounds wins!

egg on egg fight
egg on egg fight

Easter Monday – so called Śmigus-dyngus or “Wet Monday”. In the Polish tradition this day we will pour water over other peoples, even people unknown to us. As a kid this was my favourite part of Easter. I would try to wake up as earlier in the morning as possible so I can run to my parents’ room and spray some water on them from my “shooting” Easter egg filled with water.

Easter is a family holiday. We gather to spend a day or two together, eating some fantastic food, talking, enjoying each other’s company and finding out all those details we may have missed by not being with each other every day. Some Easter celebrations from my childhood were huge, with 20+ family members present around the table. These days’ the tradition seems to be dying out a little. People have no time and aren’t willing to “sacrifice” their free time to spend with others. But Easter is a lovely holiday and I say its traditions are well worth keeping!

0 thoughts on “Easter – Polish Traditions

  1. Gotta love the egg fights! My dad tells a story of how when he was little and plastic was still quite new, his aunt “hid” a plastic egg in with all the others. Needless to say, it was the winningest egg ever! I marvel at the fact that nobody figured it out sooner, but I guess that’s what happens when plastic isn’t an every day thing. I have never met anyone outside of my family who egg fights. It’s always funny explaining it to people. They think that we sit around on Easter morning and chuck eggs at each other.

I love all comments :-)