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Polish Easter Traditions

Last updated on May 14, 2019

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Easter in Poland is full of customs and traditions. It is a very unique time for the family members who gather in order to celebrate and cherish this time together. But it is not only about traditions. As with many Polish customs, it is also about food. And it is about cleaning! Trust me everything needs to be sparkling clean before Easter 😉

Easter is one of the oldest Polish traditions and one that in some ways combines Christian and pagan times.

Palm Sunday – a beautiful Polish Easter tradition

Poland celebrates Easter according to the Christian calendar. Easter Sunday, for example, happens on the first Sunday after the first full moon of spring.

We know that Easter is approaching when we see a lot of people with a larger number of branches of dried flowers merging onto churches. This is so-called Palm Sunday. The tradition happens one week before Easter Sunday and is supposed to remind us of the day when Jesus entered into Jerusalem.

It is also a very colourful tradition. The so-called palms are made of willow birches, branches of box trees, raspberries and currants adorned with flowers, moss, herbs and colourful feathers.

People normally march with them around the city with a church procession. In many parts of the country, you can find some competitions for the most beautiful and the longest palms. Some of them can be even 10 meters long!!! Imagine carrying one of this size 😉

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Pisanki – Easter Egg painting

This Polish Easter tradition happens on Easter Saturday 🙂

On Easter Saturday we have a very important task to do i.e. we need to paint some Easter eggs (pisanki). When I was a child this was definitely my favourite activity. I used to buy some paints and make each of them a different colour.

Nowadays you can get some ready-made kits to make really amazing designs yourself. You can also check some inspirations here.

Here in Poland, Easter is time to create beautiful pieces of art by ornamenting chicken eggs (sometimes goose’s or duck’s might be used as well). As a matter of fact, pisanka derives from the verb pisać, which in modern Polish means to write. However, in old Polish, pisać also meant to draw 

Another interesting fact is that pisanka originated as a pagan tradition, but that was absorbed by Christianity to become the traditional Easter egg. Nowadays, pisanki symbolize the revival of nature and the hope that Christians gain from faith in the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Pisanki is a well-known Polish Easter tradition, and you might have spotted these ornamented eggs before if you’ve been in here during Easter time.

Pisanki are usually hallowed on Easter Saturday (together with the Easter basket), and then on Easter Sunday they are exchanged and shared among the family at the table. Something similar to what is done with Opłatek (Christmas wager) during Christmas time.

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Different types of Pisanki

There are different types of pisanki, depending on the technique that is used. You can follow the links below to read some extra info about them directly from Wikipedia:

  • Kraszanki – these are made by boiling the egg in a substance derived from plants and other natural products that will change the colour of the shell. The colour will depend on the type of substance that is used.
  • Drapanki – once the kraszanki are ready, you can scratch the surface of it to remove part of the colour and reveal the white of the shell. In this way, you can make some beautiful drawings.
  • Pacenka – these are created by drawing or painting on the egg directly.
  • Naklejanki – besides painting and drawing, you can also ornament the egg with different things, such as petals, scraps of colourful paper or with pieces of cloth. This is what naklejanki are all about.
  • Oklejanki – another type of pisanki, that in this case are decorated with bulrush pith or yarn. These are common in the region of Podlaskie in Poland.
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Easter Basket

This is a very important Easter Tradition. Easter Basket is something that needs to be properly equipped and decorated 😉 After everything is complete, usually, the youngest family member is responsible to go with the basket to get a blessing.

All of the baskets are placed in the central table where the blessing happens. As I mentioned above, the food is consumed by the family on Easter Sunday. Normally, each family member should get to eat at least a small piece of each food item that was blessed by the priest.

The content of the basket ingredients is then shared among family members and is supposed to bless the family. I wrote already a bit about it in my other article about Polish traditions.

But, not only food is important for Polish people, we cannot forget about the decoration of the basket!

Inside the basket, you will find a beautiful piece of cloth normally made of traditional folk fabric. In addition to that, we also decorate the basket with springs of boxwood and once the food is inside we cover everything with a white linen cloth. This piece of linen cloth is supposed to represent the shroud of Christ.

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The content of the Easter basket

Depending on the family, you can find many different items in the basket. These are, however, the most common items to put inside:

  • Ham – symbolizes great joy
  • Cheese – reminds Christians of moderation
  • Eggs and Pisanki – are the symbol of Christ’s resurrection
  • Horseradish – this is to remind about harshness and bitterness of the Passion of Jesus
  • Easter Bread – symbolic of Jesus who is Bread of life
  • Butter – it is very often shaped like a little lamb. It symbolizes the end of Lent and reminds us of a good will of God.
  • Salt – symbolizes prosperity and justice.
  • Sausage – symbolizes the generosity of God.
  • Smoked Bacon – symbolizes the abundance of God’s mercy
  • Candles – symbolizes the light of the world – Jesus
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Easter Breakfast

So, I already mentioned a bit about it above. The components of the Easter basket are the main ingredients of the Easter breakfast are they are the ones that we eat first. The idea of sharing the components of the Easter basket can be somehow compared to sharing Christmas wafer.

Of course, the items from the Easter basket will not be enough to feed the whole family 😉 In general, you can be sure that you will not be hungry after breakfast. On the table, you will be able to find such delicious foods as:

  • Mazurek – a delicious flat shortbread that can be made of different dough and toppings.
  • Żurek – a traditional Polish soup made from rye flour and served with a boiled egg. More about traditional Polish soups, you can read in another article that we wrote.
  • Babka – this traditional Easter cake is baked in a Bundt pan and according to the tradition, it has no filling. It can, however, have some sweet topping.
  • Makowiec – another cake 😉 this one somehow reminds a strudel and is made of poppy seeds.
  • Herring – many people can imagine neither Easter nor Christmas without herring. The fish is served filleted and normally with some onions on top and vinegar oil.

Any many others! Get your stomachs ready 🙂

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This Polish Easter tradition is probably especially loved by children 🙂 Let’s face it, who does not like having some fun with water? The tradition happens always on Easter Monday. Children normally wake up earlier than normal and start running around the house to throw some water on older family members.

But that’s not all. Especially in smaller cities where the tradition is cultivated slightly more (at least this is my impression), you might be able to observe some water battles. Children run with water guns, balloon water bombs etc and throw water in each other. Even colder weather usually does not spoil the fun 😉 So, are you ready to get wet and have some fun ?

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For those of you who have already spent Easter in Poland, what’s your favorite tradition?

One Comment

  1. Patty Patty April 17, 2019

    I didn’t know about the throwing of the water,but almost everything else we did in our house except for the herring on Easter.

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