Easter is the oldest Christian holiday, and its solemn celebration is the responsibility of every member of the Catholic Church. According to tradition, Resurrection Sunday is celebrated in honor of the martyrdom and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Easter in Poland is full of folk traditions and customs, some of which are still vividly cultivated, and some are increasingly disappearing. However, we still bless the food, paint Easter eggs, take palms to churches, and pour water on Monday.
Poland is famous for many things, but did you know about the Polish Easter traditions?
Polish Easter traditions are wonderful rituals and traditions. Many of them, celebrated very spectacularly, are real tourist attractions that small towns glorify the whole country. Easter, or Passover, is the most important holiday for Christians. Jesus confirmed through his resurrection that he is the Messiah, the Son of God.
Since when is Easter celebrated?
Easter in Poland and worldwide began at the same time the Jews celebrated their Passover, in remembrance of their deliverance from Egyptian bondage. The festival was celebrated for a week, beginning on the 14th of the month of Nisan, around the turn of March and April of the Gregorian calendar. In 325, the Council of Nicaea established that the Christian Passover would be celebrated on the Sunday following the first full moon. Later, during the reign of Charlemagne, it was finally established that Easter would fall on the Sunday after the first full moon in spring.
The Feast of the Lord’s Resurrection is associated with the first days of spring in our country. The Slavs joyfully celebrated the equation of day and night, which was associated with many rites. After adopting Christianity, the Church imbued many of these customs with new content.
Easter in Poland and in any other country is a movable holiday, most often falling in April. In the Catholic Church, the date of Easter depends on the phases of the moon. According to the current doctrine, Easter Sunday falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon in spring. The first full moon in spring always falls on March 21, which is the day beginning the calendar spring.
Easter in Poland
In few countries in the world, Easter is celebrated as solemnly and religiously as in Poland. In most Western countries, this holiday is associated with spring and social gatherings. Easter in Poland is associated primarily with a long time of Lent, in which the faithful deny themselves the pleasure to open up to God, other people and develop spiritually. The period of seven days before the Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection, i.e. Easter Week, is also highly symbolic for Poles. On these days the faithful gather in large numbers in churches to prepare for Easter Sunday, according to tradition.
Holy Thursday is the day commemorating the last supper of Jesus Christ with his disciples, on which Jesus instituted two important sacraments: the priesthood and the Eucharist. In the evening, a solemn Mass of the Lord’s Supper is celebrated, celebrating these events and opening the Holy Easter Triduum. On Holy Thursday, the Mass is extremely solemn, priests wear golden chasubles, and glorious songs are sung. The service ends with the transfer of the Blessed Sacrament to the chapel of adoration, the so-called darkness.
This is the day of the greatest mourning and reflection. On this day, out of respect for the martyr’s death on the cross of Jesus Christ for the sins of the whole world, no Mass is celebrated in the Churches. Instead of mass, believers come to the Stations of the Cross service, illustrating Jesus’ last journey. Traditionally, Good Friday is a day of homage to the Cross and the Holy Sepulcher. Soldiers and scouts guard the beautifully decorated tombs of Christ, and at night in the Roman Colosseum, a solemn Way of the Cross led by the Pope himself is celebrated. This service is broadcast and watched by Christians all over the world. Housewives bake yeast cakes, cook ham, and prepare Easter eggs.
Holy Saturday is a day of waiting for the Resurrection of Jesus. Adoration of the Holy Sepulcher continues in the church. Usually, in the morning we go to the Church to bless the food for the Easter table. Święconka in the Easter basket should be eaten the next day during a festive breakfast with the family.
The tradition of blessing food dates back to pagan times. The Church accepted this custom so as not to discourage newly recruited Christians.
Holy Sunday – Easter in Poland
Resurrection Sunday ends Lent. Early in the morning, there is a Mass – Resurrection, and then Christians sit down to a festive Easter breakfast. According to tradition, the Easter table should be covered with a white tablecloth and decorated with boxwood. In the green cress meadow, a lamb (a symbol of the risen Christ) with a red flag with a golden cross should graze. On the table, you can’t miss a vase with catkins, the first spring flowers, and green sprigs. A plate of Easter eggs must also be present. All blessed foods should be placed on platters so that they are distinguished from unblessed foods. Remember that every participant of the Christmas Eve breakfast must have easy access to the “Saint”. A separate plate should contain eggs cut into quarters and sprinkled with salt and pepper. Like a Christmas wafer and pieces of eggs, the revelers should share and make their best Christmas wishes.
Wet Monday – Śmingus-Dyngus
In the folk tradition, the second day of Easter is called Monday or the śmingus-dyngus. It’s a day of joy and mischief.
The custom of pouring water, known as a dyngus or a blast, has a long tradition in Poland. Apparently, it came to our lands along with German settlers, but there is no certainty about it. It is known, however, that dyngus belongs to those ancient customs, which on the one hand are related to rain magic, associated with the spring agrarian celebrations of many peoples, and on the other hand, with cleansing practices during rites dedicated to the dead.
On Monday, young people, and others, are poured with water that is supposed to bring health and prosperity. In the past, there were even guides that told you how to pour water on ladies who are dear to your heart, and how girls do not stand out. Dumping the girl was, in a way, a distinction among her companions, the omission of any of them was a disregard for her.