Holy Saturday- Easter Basket Blessing, a church tradition


The Holy Saturday Easter Basket Blessing is a traditionally Polish occurrence,and our Roman Catholic church is performing this at 12:oo Noon today at mass. 

The alter of St. Augustine of Canterbury church with the Easter "food " baskets ready for the blessing.

The alter of St. Augustine of Canterbury church with the Easter “food ” baskets ready for the blessing.

I’ve checked to see what is included in a traditional basket for blessing.  We will be driving to Mendoker’s bakery in Jamestown this morning, for small Easter cakes to put in the basket. We have everything else. 

Slice of ham, ( symbolizes the Resurrection, Christ’s victory over death), Bread loaf or Rye bread slices,  ( symbolizes the Bread of Life) salt, ( Prosperity & Justice)  pepper, (bitter herb of Passover), horseradish , (The Passion of Christ) cheese , candle, basket ribbons, and a linen cover. ( My linen closet has a pretty selection of Easter theme colors. ) 

I’l take a picture of our basket that we’re making up and post at a later date!!

Here are some of the Easter baskets.  Ours is the white basket with the pink and white plaid linen.

Holy Saturday Easter "Food" baskets to be Blessed by our priest.

Holy Saturday
Easter “Food” baskets to be Blessed by our priest.

The alter of St. Augustine of Canterbury church with the Easter "food " baskets ready for the blessing.

The alter of St. Augustine of Canterbury church with the Easter “food ” baskets ready for the blessing.

Here is information from another website called Polish Easter customs and Polish music, religious: 

traditional Polish Easter basket for the 
Easter Blessing (Święcenie pokarmów)
  The tradition of preparing a special Easter basket to be blessed by a local priest has been practiced by Poles throughout the ages. It is reported that as many as 95% of all Polish families continue the custom today. The custom is also maintained throughout Polonia and has even been embraced by those not of Polish descent.
 
  It should be noted that the Easter basket is first lined with a linen or a lace napkin which extends beyond the ‘basket’s rim and covers the food placed inside as the basket is carried to and from church. The food is later uncovered for the blessing. Here is a list of items that are traditionally included in the Polish Easter basket and are an integral part of the Polish Easter blessing:
 
  • Eggs, colored or plain (jaja, pisanki): Hard-boiled eggs symbolize new life, a basic theme of the Easter celebration.
  • Bread (chleb): The “staff of life”. In some cases, special loaves marked on top with a cross are baked for the occasion. The importance of bread as a symbol of life cannot be stressed enough.
  • Meat and sausage (mięso, wędliny): kielbasa, a slice of ham or roast meat are usually included. Meat symbolizes the resurrection, Christ’s victory over death.
  • Horseradish (chrzan): Horseradish represents one of the bitter herbs which foretold the Crucifixion. It is also an acknowledgement that in life one must accept the bitter with the sweet.
  • Vinegar (ocet): A small container of vinegar stands for the bitter wine that Jesus was given while hanging on the cross.
  • Salt (sól): Salt is an important food preservative that has always been essential for survival through Poland’s long winters. Like bread, its importance cannot be overstated.
  • Pepper (pieprz): Like horseradish, it is one of the bitter herbs of Passover.
  • Easter cakes (babka, mazurek, placek, chalka, sernic): The forty-day period of self-denial is over, and it is once again time to enjoy life’s sweetness!
  • Wine (wino): A small quantity of wine is sometimes included. Wine represents Christ’s blood shed on the cross.
  • Easter Lamb (baranek wielkanocny): Usually made of butter (but is can be made of almost anything) is added last where it prominently guards over the other precious items in the basket. The lamb, representing the sacrificial Pascal lamb, usually wields a red banner with a gold cross proclaiming victory of life over death.
  • Box twigs (bukszpan): This is an evergreens shrub with tiny green leaves used for decorative purposes. Sprigs of pussy willows are also very popular.

Well, I can cross this off of “my bucket list”.  Next year , if I have the day off, I’d like to do this again.  Growing up, My mother would speak about it, saying, she did not have time to cook a whole meal and bring it down to the church.  She had a misconception of what the basket consisted of.  Thanks to the world wide web, and  a conversation with a staff member, I learned this year that it was not a entire meal, but a sampling of foods each representing something about Jesus Christ’ Passion.  She said that the food that they bring are the Kielbasa, loaf of bread, the horseradish, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, butter, and these things they eat for lunch that same afternoon.

I shared with my mother that Pat rick and I made up a basket for the blessing, and she seemed not interested.  She said the Polish church did that.  That’s what makes this world go round.   We are all individuals  that can make up their own mind what new experiences to try.

Here's our Easter "Food" basket that was blessed.

Here’s our Easter “Food” basket that was blessed.

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