Pisanki and other Polish Easter traditions

So, the Easter weekend is now upon us (and the 4 day bank holiday!)

While in the UK this is all about the chocolate fest (loving the little Lindt bunnies!), Easter in Poland is much more of a spiritual occasion.

Coming closely behind in importance in the catholic calendar after Christmas, Wielkanoc (Polish Easter) is focused on the religious side (most of the Easter cards show an image of Jesus and wish you a Happy Allelujah) of what the time signifies as well as being very much an occasion for family get-togethers and of course the traditional Polish food.

Easter starts with a lead up of Palm sunday, the sunday before Easter – when you make up/buy ‘palms’ of straw and dried flowers and take them into church for blessing.

Good Saturday is a key day in the Easter weekend and a great day for kids. On that day, you prepare a small wicker basket with a food assortment of sausages, rye bread, salt, sugar lamb and Pisanki (painted eggs). The last one – Pisanki – is all about Easter fun for kids – but there are also amazing professionally hand painted ones that you can buy! Once your assortment is ready, you take it to church on saturday where there’s normally a ‘blessing’ every 30 mins or so and you get the food blessed. The blessed food is then saved for Easter Sunday – when you share it out among the family at the table during the Easter Breakfast (in a similar way of sharing oplatek on Christmas Eve).

Pisanki are great fun. There are many ways you can approach them. If you want something simple, you can just boil the eggs in a saucepan full of red onion peel and watch then turn a lovely red/brown shade. If you want to take it a step further (and you have a steady hand) – you can grab a needle and try scratching in a design into the dyed egg shell. The favourite with the kids is using the good old watercolour paints and unleash colourful designs on the eggs. I guess this goes back again to the tradition of home made things, but if you ever fancy something a bit different, try painting an egg!

If you can bring yourself to do it (after all the creative art work), you break open the Pisanki on Easter Sunday and share them out along with the rest of the blessed food.
Other traditional dishes for Easter Sunday’s breakfast are white barszcz (beetroot soup) – similar to the red barszcz but with horseradish, white sausage and egg pieces in it (seriously good!) as well sausages, bread, cooked vegetable salad with mayo, cold meats as well as a variety of cakes: Babka (yeast cake), mazurek (shortbread pastry with jelly and fruit) and makowiec…. all of course of beautifully decorated table with a plain white tablecloth and watercress/green decoration.

Easter breakfast is normally started with wishes from the man of the house – again in a similar way to the Christmas Eve meal.

Monday is a wholly different affair on a lighter note. Called ‘Lany poniedzialek’ or ‘Smigus Dyngus’ – wet monday – this day is all about dousing people with water. In the olden days it was a way for guys to court girls in the countryside, throwing buckets of water over the young ladies they were interested in. Nowadays it’s a lot of running around with small plastic balls filled with water and squirting people in the street …. you might also wake up to someone pouring tea spoons of water or a glass (if brave) of it on your head…. how fun is that!! It’s a challenge to be the first one to wake up in the house – so you can be the one to do the pouring!

Wesolych Swiat! (Happy Easter!)

Read more about Poland on www.inlovewithpoland.com

Polish Easter Babka - Yeast Cake
Polish Easter Babka - Yeast Cake
Sliced cold meats
Sliced cold meats

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