Tuesday, April 25, 2017
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Easter and Lent

Pisanki: An Ancient Art of Hope and Life

Although the ancient European art of "Pisanki" has become very closely associated with Easter, it first came about more than 2000 years ago when people realized the connection between the egg and spring. (Our chickens always lay many more eggs in spring, when the daylight hours are long, than in fall and winter). After the dark, cold, and death of winter, the egg symbolized rebirth or hope. Even then certain people used wax and natural dyes to decorate the eggs with meaningful symbols. There is also an old legend that says that every pisanki egg made will reinforce the chain that holds an old evil monster in the bowels of the earth.

Read more: Pisanki: An Ancient Art of Hope and Life


Some Lesser-known Traditions of Polish Spring, Lent and Easter

Most people who have been to Poland will remember the huge storks nesting atop barns and cottages. These beloved birds come back each March, usually on March 19, St. Joseph's Day, or, the feast of the Annunciation, March 25. These storks, or "bociany" of old Polish legend, are considered to be kindred spirits of man, with many human qualities.

The ancient story says that frogs, lizards, snails and other pests were multiplying excessively and causing great problems. God gathered them all in a sack and told a man to empty the sack into the sea. Curiosity got the best of the poor human and he opened the sack! All escaped, so God changed the man into a stork to hunt them.

Read more: Some Lesser-known Traditions of Polish Spring, Lent and Easter


Easter Eggs

Kraszanki - uniformly colored eggs

PisankaThe simplest technique of painting eggs (eggs in Polish are called jaja or jajka) which I remember from my childchood in Silesia - was painting the eggs in natural dyes. For instance eggs cooked in onion skins give a pretty medium light brown color or in redbeets give a deep red. Such eggs are still healthy to eat even if the onions penetrated through the eggs changing its coloration inside. The one-colored eggs looks beautiful in the Easter basket if we have each egg in a different color. The less common natural dyes used for coloring eggs were - leaves of birch or alder which give a beautiful yellow color, carrot and pumpkin for orange, fruit of blackthorn for blue or different grasses and nettle for green. Mixing different main colors gives practically all possible color shades. Check the recipe how to prepare kraszanki from onion skins.

Read more: Easter Eggs


Tradition of Suffering (Lent) and Resurrection (Easter)

Easter Lent in Polish is called "Wielki Post", which literally means "Great Fast" to distinguish it from the Advent season proceeding Christmas. Easter is called "Wielkanoc", which means "Great Night." So the origin of the Polish word for Easter has only religious connotation unlike its English equivalent which originates from Eostre, a pagan goddess of dawn, spring and fertility.

Read more: Tradition of Suffering (Lent) and Resurrection (Easter)


Martha Stewart and Polish Easter Traditions

I am happy when I hear that someone is still cherishing some of the old traditions as Babci did. Many churches have started to bless food on Holy Saturday, even if the priest and congregation are not Polish. For years our Irish priests at my parish have done this for the handful of Polish parishioners who still bring their basket of eggs, ham , kielbasa, babka, lamb butter and other traditional foods to the Church on Holy Saturday.

Read more: Martha Stewart and Polish Easter Traditions


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