Cultural letter #13 Easter


Dear friends,


The kids are working on schoolwork at the moment. I encouraged them to finish quickly since Polish school has out Thurs, Friday, Mon, and Tues..  They make a big deal out of Easter Break.  Having almost a week off leads to a feeling of play.


I told the kids that they had to do their English schoolwork during this time, though, since we already had so much time off. :)  Slave driver, I know.


This is the Easter season. The Poles take it seriously...though it seems to me, it has more to do with eggs, chickens and spring flowers like tulips than anything.  The kids learned what each thing represents, at least according to their school textbook writer.


I thought I'd share with you what this person says about their symbols.


(From what I understand...The people gather certain things together and take them to the priest in a basket on Saturday morning to get sprinkled with holy water....  I suspect that they are all placed in the front of the church and the priest throws water at the whole bunch....not individually like I used to think.  They then eat them on Sunday morning at a special breakfast together. If they each eat part of what is in the basket, they get a special blessing for the year.)


From the kids' school book...


Eggs (uncolored) they are a sign of new life. They remind us that Jesus rose.


Salt protects against spoilage. Sprinkled, it has the power to protect against evil and spoilage of our spirits.


Palm branches (sorta...they are homemade)...they remind us yearly of the travel of Jesus to Jerusalem. The people welcomed Him waving palm branches. They protect against sickness and they assure good fruit....(then they explain how to make one...they put various things on that they are quite pretty, and actually look like a long dried floral bouquet.)


Certain plants...boxwood, myrtle, and bilberry... these are signs of the peace which Jesus brings.  In Poland they are gathered together in the basket instead of olive branches.


Colorful Easter Eggs roll on the holiday table, so that they can crash or clatter and roll around.  Whichever one hits the table first loses. You color them so that you can tell which is which.  (I guess they have a "twist the egg" type game, like we might play spin the top...they play spin the egg.)


Ram...the Jews ate for their last passover before their flight from Egypt.  This is a symbol of freedom.  (I previously thought it was a symbol of Jesus being the lamb of God as a sacrifice..)


Rabbits...remind us that not only people are happy that Jesus arose from the dead, but also the animals are.  (I'm not exaggerating...this is really written in their textbooks.)


Around the Easter table it is tradition that there are various cakes.  The person who puts a cake in the oven to bake, for the whole time of baking, can't sit down, or else the cake will fall and will have a "sad cake".


Dumping water on each other on "Easter Monday" (the day after Easter). It is known that water has the power of cleaning...They dump water to avoid bad works.


(My comments are in parenthesis...the other is translated from their school book. I didn't try to "clean up" the translation too much...)


I'm going to attach a picture of their school book so you can see the pictures that they have drawn. It'll give you a better picture of the palm branch, ram, etc.



As I've understood it, traditionally they have some no-no's during this working outside, or even inside like cleaning after Thursday.  Shopping is fine.  Apparently the work they mean, is yard work, etc NOT work in the kitchen. (It is so hypocritical to me...means the men don't have to work outside doing their farm work, so they can sit in the house while their wives fix special cakes, least that's my take on it.  It is always funny to me, who didn't grow up here, the specific taboos on certain things.)  However, I know that is an exaggeration, as most places of employment are still open today...including bricklayers, etc.


We're having a special meeting tonight, showing a film, and then on Sunday we'll be having a special dinner at GK. I'l fix a turkey. I'm not big into Catholic tradition and taboos, so I'm trying to be kind of sensitive, but at the same time realizing that this is a free country and not everyone is bound by the Catholic church...


So, I need to go clean my bathroom and get some flowers planted this weekend!  :)


Oh yes...they do sell candy eggs, and such here, but it isn't to the extent of what it is in the states.  Seems like people are saving "Happy holidays..Enjoy those eggs." (Personally I don't care that much for hard boiled eggs.) And no, we didn't get new Easter dresses...


I also heard that the dumping water originated with a pagan fertility rite...


They have the liberty to throw water on each other on the Monday after Easter, which they call Easter Monday up until noon. I've always disliked that tradition because people are afraid of being outside that day, and it is a waste of a perfectly good, free day, esp. if the weather is nice, as you want to make use of that time, not be afraid some hooligan is going to throw water on you.  I think it is only until noon, but I'm not sure that everyone abides by that. It's really quiet outside Mon. morning.


Once again, that's "my" take on it.


After Easter, they are free to go back to their "parties" (meaning drunken times) like wedding receptions, so you see weddings on Easter, and after.  The time of "constraint" is gone...they are "free" again.  I told Milena, with whom I have a Bible study, that I disagreed with the whole idea of lent and carnival, etc, because I didn't believe that God had certain expectations from us at certain times of the year. I told her I believed if it was wrong to get drunk before Easter, then it's wrong after Easter...God didn't give special allowances in the Bible for behavior at certain times of the year.  Our behavior should be dictated by the Bible, not tradition, or some church rule. 




For now,



PS.  If you can't get pictures through, please let me know and I can send you emails without pics.  I'll put you on a special list.