We are the Easter people,
and Alleluja is our song.
-- John Paul II
Info here is attributed to:
Dr. Ann Hetzel Gunkel, Professor of Humanities & Cultural Studies at Columbia College Chicago
Check out her Website:
Blessing of the Bread
Blessing of the Meat
Blessing of the Eggs
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Easter is the most important holiday for Christians. It is the Resurrection and the promise of life
Swięconka (sh-vee-en-soon-kah) is one of the most enduring and beloved Polish traditions. Baskets
containing a sampling of Easter foods are brought to church to be blessed on Holy Saturday. The basket
is traditionally lined with a white linen or lace napkin and decorated with sprigs of boxwood (bukszpan),
the typical Easter evergreen. Poles take special pride in preparing a decorative and tasteful basket with
crisp linens, occasionally embroidered for the occasion, and just enough boxwood and ribbon woven through
the handle. Observing the beautiful foods and creations of other parishioners is one of the special joys of
While in some older or rural communities, the priest visits the home to bless the foods, the vast majority
of Poles and Polish Americans visit the church on Holy Saturday, once again praying at the Tomb of the Lord.
Basket Contents and Symbolism:
Maslo / Butter : This dairy product is often shaped into a lamb (Baranek Wielkanocny), reminding us of the
goodness of Christ that we should have toward all things.
Chleb / Easter Bread: A round rye loaf topped with a cross, symbolic of Jesus, the Bread of Life.
Chrzan / Horseradish : Symbolic of the Passion of Christ still in our minds, but sweetened with some sugar
because of the Resurrection. (May be white or pink [w/grated red beets].)
Jajka / Eggs and Pisanki: Indicate new life and Christ's Resurrection from the Tomb.
Kielbasa / Sausage: A spicy sausage of pork products, indicative of God's favor and generosity.
Szynka / Ham: Symbolic of great joy and abundance. (In addition to the large ham cooked for the Easter Meal,
often a special small ham, called the Szynka Wielkanocny) is purchased specially for Swieconka basket.)
Slonina / Smoked Bacon: A symbol of the over abundance of God's mercy and generosity.
Sol / Salt: So necessary an element in our physical life, that Jesus used its symbolism: "You are the salt of
Ser / Cheese: Shaped into a ball, it is the symbol of the moderation Christians should have.
Holy Water: Holy water is used to bless the home, animals, fields and used in religious rituals
throughout the year.
A candle, often marked like the Paschal Candle lit during the Easter Vigil, is inserted into the basket to
represent Christ, Light of the World.
A colorful ribbon and sometimes sprigs of greenery are attached.
The linen cover is drawn over the top and is ready for the trek to the blessing.
Neighbors entering St. Adelbert's to have food blessed on Swięconka
a long time ago.
Polish Easter Basket
[About Polish Easter]
[About Easter Traditions]
[About Smigus - Dyngus]
[About St. Joseph's Day]