If you’re lucky enough to be in Poland for Easter, we suggest joining in some of the traditions, whether you are Catholic or not. Two very unique traditions are the dying of Easter eggs and the blessing of Easter baskets. Go to a local farmer’s market to find all the supplies you will need to put together a proper basket or dye your own eggs.
This year on Good Friday we hard-boiled our eggs in water with onion-skins. This gives the egg a deep brown color, and allowed us to etch with razor-blades designs into them. I was told to etch my future dreams so that the priest could bless them, because these eggs eventually go into your Easter basket. We took it a step further this year by dying the eggs with imprints of flowers onto them. To do this place petals, leaves, or whole flowers against the egg, wrap the egg in pantyhose, and then boil it with the onion skins.
The tradition of the Polish Easter basket is rich with symbolism, each item having a specific purpose in the basket, and no candy in sight (unless there is a small child in the family, then there can be a candy bar or chocolate bunny). Items may include sausage, salt, horseradish, home-grown Easter grass, two special types of branches, eggs, butter, cheese, bread, a special little cake, and a lamb made out of bread, butter, or sugar!
Each basket is taken to the church on Saturday (blessings are held about every half-hour throughout the city), and holy water is sprinkled on it by a priest. A sight to see even if you don’t have your own basket to be blessed. You then take your blessed basket to Easter breakfast on Sunday, and divide the blessed food for everyone there. An interesting tradition, as you watch a 2-inch piece of sausage cut into 12 pieces for everyone at breakfast to have a bite.
You can find some more information about the symbolism and tradition here.