How to talk about Easter in Poland?
Easter is coming. This year Easter Sunday falls on 12th April. Soon, Christians all around the world are going to celebrate the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. This is the most important religious festival of the year. For the believers it’s the time of sorrow followed by an outburst of joy. The joy that can’t be beaten.
Let’s use this opportunity to learn some Easter vocabulary and learn how to talk about Polish traditions related to the festival.
The celebration of the Holy Week starts on Palm Sunday. It’s the day when Catholics in Poland go to churches with palm branches. Those can be live branches of palms, pussy willows or any other twigs of trees like apple or cherry. They can also be artificial, composed of imitations of dried flowers, wheat stems with addition of boxwood. Where does this custom come from? It started in the ancient Israel. Waving palm branches and laying them under the feet was a way to greet the king. This is how Jesus was treated a week before Easter. Israelites welcomed him as a king.
Maundy Thursday is the last Thursday before Easter. Its English name is derived from French and it means ‘commandment’. This is commemoration of the day when during The Last Supper Jesus told his disciples to love one another. So, he gave them a commandment. Traditionally, the Pope in Vatican washes the feet of some people on that day.
After Maundy Thursday there is Good Friday. This is the day of rememberance of the passion and death of Jesus Christ who was crucified. There is a special celebration of Stations of the Cross by the Pope. This is a prayer where particular moments of the passion of the Christ are mentioned and refelcted upon. It is transmitted on the TV.
Right before Easter Sunday there is Holy Saturday. In the church it is a day of silence, praying and waiting for the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In Poland there is a rich tradition of taking to the church baskets filled with Easter food. In the baskets you can find pieces of Easter cakes, sausages, salt, bread, horseradish, coloured eggs and others. These products will be later on added to the Easter meal. In the churches or chapels the priest blesses the food which is taken back home afterwards. You also get some holy water. People sometimes leave something for the priest as well, like fresh eggs.
The day all are waiting for is Easter Sunday. The celebration starts at 6 a.m. with the Resurrection Mass. This is the moment when in most of the churches the priest announces the resurrection of Jesus. There is a solemn procession around the church. It is a day of unspeakable joy. People eat festive breakfast – sour rye soup and some share boiled eggs with one another. Families celebrate the day together.
Easter Monday brings a funny tradition of sprinkling others with water. The day is called Śmigus Dyngus or Lany Poniedziałek. It’s mostly young people who enjoy the fun. Once, it was believed that a girl who was not wet from the water on that day wouldn’t be lucky in love.HAPPY EASTER from me to YOU!
Autor: Honorata Turczyn