On the morning of Holy Saturday we carry on an old Eastern European tradition of blessing baskets of Easter food. The tradition marked the end of the great Lenten fast which was quite rigorous—no meat throughout all of Lent (Sundays as the day of the Resurrection were the exception) and even dairy products were denied. So, the food in the Easter basket was blessed as that would be the first time the fast was being broken.
In Poland, blessing of the baskets is known as swiecenie pokarmow wielkanocnych, a practice dating to the 15th century or earlier, and one which is still maintained by most families in Poland on Holy Saturday, which is also observed by many Polish-Americans.
The food items in the swieconka (shvyehn-SOHN-kah), or Easter basket (the term also refers to the Easter Sunday breakfast at which the święcone or blessed food is eaten), have special significance. The white napkin that lines the basket represents the shroud of Christ. The baranek or lamb in butter, sugar (baranek cukrowy wielkanocny), dough, wood or even plastic stands for Jesus, the Paschal lamb. The hard-cooked eggs symbolize new life or Christ rising from his tomb. Bread represents the bread of life given by God. Meat and sausages are symbols of the resurrected Christ, horseradish represents accepting the bitter with the sweet in life, vinegar symbolizes the sour wine given to Jesus on the cross. Salt is to add zest to life and preserve us from corruption, and sweets suggest the promise of eternal life or good things to come.
If you wish to have a basket of Easter food blessed the Blessing ceremony will take place downstairs in the Church Hall on Saturday March 30 at 11:30 a.m. following the Easter Egg Hunt. The prayers will be said in English and in Polish.