Saturday, April 7, 2012
Święconka, or the blessing of the food
Święconka (rough pronounciation: shi'ven-tson-kah) is a Polish Easter tradition first recorded in writing in the 13th century, but which is definitely several hundred years older.
On Good Saturday, Catholic Poles will take a basket of food to church for a blessing. The most common traditional basket contains eggs, meat, cake, bread, salt and pepper, horseradish and beetrot sauce, and a small lamb, made of cake, bread, butter, or sugar.
They represent all the food which will be eaten on Easter Morning, after the Resurrection, as well as all the food that will be put on the table that year. It's like saying grace before a meal, but with a long-term warranty.
The foodstuffs have their own particular symbolism. The eggs represent new life (adopted as they were from Slavic Pagan rituals). The bread, strongly symbolic in the Christian faith, stands for the body of Christ and the community which comes together like so many grains of wheat.
Children in particular like Święconka as they are usually the ones to carry a little basket. :) It's also a lot of fun to decorate- with boxwood leaves, lace, ribbons, little toy chicks...
After the short blessing, families will go pray at the grave in the church. Easter is also the usual time to refill the household holy water supply; churches sell bottles of it, or allow you to fill your own from a special vessel.
With this, I wish a peaceful and meaningful Easter to my Christian friends, a lovely Passover to my Jewish friends (the dates coincide this year!) and to everyone else, a sunny spring weekend :)