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A detailed description of the Easter tradition in Poland

26 Mar 2010 #1
All nationalities, countries and cultures have their own festivals and ways to celebrate them.

In Poland, especially for Chrześcijanie or Katolicy (Christians or Catholics), two greatest and most important festivals are Boże Narodzenie (Christmas) and Wielkanoc (Easter).

In this article I would like to present customs, traditions, and the very idea of Easter in Poland.

Easter (Wielkanoc or Święta Wielkanocne) commemorates Zmartwychwstanie Jezusa Chrystusa (Jesus Christ Resurrection).

First, on the last Thursday before Wielki Post (Lent) there is the so-called Tłusty Czwartek (Fat Thursday) when all the people eat pączki wypełnione marmoladą (donuts filled with marmalade) or faworki or chrust (sweet crispy biscuits in the shape of thin folded ribbons, deep-fried and with powdered sugar). Then, we have forty days of Wielki Post (Lent) which starts with Środa Popielcowa or Popielec (Ash Wednesday). It finishes the period of karnawał (carnival). During this time every Friday there is Droga Krzyżowa (Stations of the Cross) in churches - a service which depicts Jesus road to be ukrzyżowany (crucified) and every Sunday - Gorzkie Żale (Opening Lamentations) - it is a collection of songs about Męka Chrystusa (Christ's Passion).

On the fifth Sunday of the Lent there is Niedziela Palmowa when we bring gałązki palmowe or palmy (palms) to church to be poświęcone (blessed). There is a special konkurs (competiotion) known in the whole Poland which takes place in the village called Lipnica Murowana - its main idea is to make the highest and the most beautiful palm.

Then, there are Wielki Czwartek (Holy Thursday), Wielki Piątek (Good Friday) and Wielka Sobota (Holy Saturday) when there are special services in churches. On Wielka Sobota (Holy Saturday) we put different kinds of food into koszyki (baskets): jajka (eggs), sól (salt), chleb (bread), kiełbasa (sausage), chrzan (horseradish) and we take them to church where they are poświęcone (blessed) and eaten for uroczyste śniadanie wielkanocne (solemn Easter breakfast) on Niedziela Wielkanocna, Wielka Niedziela or Niedziela Zmartwychwstania Pańskiego (Easter Sunday).

The most important day of Easter is mentioned above Niedziela Wielkanocna, Wielka Niedziela or Niedziela Zmartwychwstania Pańskiego (Easter Sunday) with solemn masses. It is the day to be spent with families and relatives, to relax and rest. For children, there is the custom that zajączek wielkanocny (Easter bunny) brings presents. Sometimes, parents hide the gifts in different parts of the house, room or garden and children must look for them.

Poniedziałek Wielkanocny (Easter Monday) has a tradition called Śmigus-Dyngus (Dyngus Day) that is why it is also known as Lany Poniedziałek (Wet Monday)- people make others wet by pouring water or perfumes. It is especially popular with children and teenagers.

Similarly to Boże Narodzenie (Christmas), there are also various decorations bought, made and prepared for Easter. These are: baranki and zajączki cukrowe (sugar Easter lambs and bunnies), kury (chickens) and pisanki (colourful Easter eggs) - ręcznie malowane (hand painted), farbowane (dyed) or the so-called wydmuszki (blown eggs).

As you see, Polish festivals - especially Easter and Christmas - are rich in numerous traditions - both religious and these more earthly ones. This is very pleasant and weeks earlier all the people just feel the special atmosphere of oncoming unusual time. Polish people prepare for these days carefully cleaning and tidying the flats and houses, going shopping to buy presents for their relatives and thinking also about the spiritual side of the festivals.
Polonius3 994 | 12,367
26 Mar 2010 #2
You could add the Passion Plays held at Zebrzydowice, Pacław, Górka, Czerwińsk and other venues across Poland which attract thousands during Holy Week. These are not passively watched stage plays (as in Bavaria’s much overrated Oberammergau) but interactive events where the pilgrims play the role of the crowds of Old Jerusalem going from one site to another (the house of the Last Supper, Herod’s Palace, the Garden of Olives, etc.) connected to the Passion of Christ. Also the Lenten Retreats (Rekolekcje wielkopostne) held in every Polish parish and fairly well attended. They include youth retreats and others for individual professional communities.

Sunrise Easter Mass (Rezurekcja) begin with a procession that thrice encircles the outside of the church before the service begins inside -- plenty of beautiful old hymns, the scent of incense, the sound of churchbells, also firecrackers being shot off in the distance (artillery if it’s a garrison town) in memory of the thunderous rumblings thought to have accompanied the opening of Christ’s tomb. All in all, it's a good thing there is a Poland and a Polonia. Otherwise we'd all have to sink into all that hyper-commercialised secular slime!

Mar 29, 10, 04:31 - Thread attached on merging:
How are you celebrating Niedziela Palmowa?

To the native Poles on PF: how are you celebrating this important festival? Procession, palm-making contest, Easter duty (confession), Easter fair, Passion Play, etc.?
pgtx 29 | 3,146
3 Apr 2010 #3
if someone is wondering: Explaining the Easter Bunny

The modern version of the Easter Bunny (cute and cuddly) was heavily influenced by German traditions dating back to the 1500s. According to Mental Floss, "The Germans converted the pagan rabbit image into Oschter Haws, a rabbit that was believed to lay a nest of colored eggs as gifts for good children."

Eventually, chocolate became just as popular a gift as pastel-colored eggs. And, if you ask us, a lot tastier.

plk123 8 | 4,142
3 Apr 2010 #4

they don't do that in the USA in non Polish churches. sad but true. :(
Polonius3 994 | 12,367
3 Apr 2010 #5
You should visit Our Lady of Częstochowa parish in Sterling Hts some day. It's like being in Poland. All the traditonal liturgical and Polish paraliturgical forms are painstakingly maintained. In fact, hardly a word of Enlgish can be heard in the chruch, adjoining communtiy centre, parish offcies, car park or elsewhere in the parish compound.
nomaderol 5 | 726
3 Apr 2010 #6
Christianity is too young kid to own Easter tradition. Easter is basically old pagan tradition that celebrates the beginning of spring. Its equivalent in Middle Asia (Turks, Mongols, etc) is Bahar which is still celebrated in whole middle Asia for some days starting March 21..

Christians connected this pagan Easter to Christianity to convert people and Muslims connected this Bahar to Hidrilyas to convert people to Muslims. The both Easter and Bahar are based on the spring, and fertility goddess, in pagan religions, which we can also see in Shamanism.
Arien 3 | 719
3 Apr 2010 #7
The both Easter and Bahar are based on the spring, and fertility goddess, in pagan religions, which we can also see in Shamanism.

*thinks of sexy ladies dancing in the forest*

nomaderol 5 | 726
3 Apr 2010 #8
but, this is the time of fertility goddess. during this time, ladies want to make babies. and they check males for their seriousness and their promising words of men about taking care of them while pregnant and after making their baby.

goddess of sex is in august. during vacation time. sea, sun, fun..
stoimislaw - | 5
30 Mar 2013 #9
Merged: What happened to the Easter tradition of wydmuszki?

Wydmuszka is part of Polish Easter tradition of sucking the yolk out of the raw egg, then drying it and then painting some decorations on it. I will make one or two tonight, I will make a hole at the top of the egg (on either of the pointy ends) and I will such the yolk either with my mouth or with the straw if the straw fits. I will then either rinse it a bit or will place the whole egg in a basin filled with warm detergent water to get the rest of yolk out as well as the smell. Then I will leave it to dry and someone else will paint it for me - I am not an artist - or I will scribble some decoration on it to my ability and that will be it - we will have wydmuszka!

I see less and less wydmuszkas in the shops, it the church baskets (swieconka) and I assume people don't make them themselves as much anymore as I do not hear much about them. Instead what I see more and more of are chocolate eggs. This is a great Polish tradition, I hope it doesn't die out it dates back to pre-Christian times, to the Slavic pagan era, a great period.
Zibi - | 336
30 Mar 2013 #10
how are you celebrating this important festival? Procession, palm-making contest, Easter duty (confession), Easter fair, Passion Play, etc.?

I went to a couple of pubs to have a bit of fun. :-) It was a good evening.
pawian 222 | 24,343
17 Apr 2022 #11
(Easter Sunday) with solemn masses.

With traditional displays of Lord`s grave which often allude to current important events. This year - to the cruel Russian war in Ukraine.

  • Children - written on the bombarded hospital

  • Lord forgive them coz they don`t know what they are doing

  • If they go silent, the stones will shout instead
Alien 20 | 4,925
17 Apr 2022 #12
Lord do not forgive them coz they know very good what they are doing.
Novichok 4 | 7,801
17 Apr 2022 #13
This year - to the cruel Russian war in Ukraine. God's perfect indifference. Some say that when good people are silent bad things happen...

Lord do not forgive them coz they know very well what they are doing.

Did you get a confirmation that he heard you and that he has a plan?
Alien 20 | 4,925
17 Apr 2022 #14
God is with us....or can you imagine that he/she is with them?
Novichok 4 | 7,801
17 Apr 2022 #15
Yes, I can since clearly he doesn't mind what they are doing.
pawian 222 | 24,343
17 Apr 2022 #16
In my opinion, this is the most symbolic display - Jesus in the debris of the destroyed house, holding the Ukrainian flag. The debris suggests the destruction taking place in Ukraine right now. Jesus is dead, like thousands of Ukrainians who perished in result of cruel Russian aggression. Yet, we know that he will resurrect. So will Ukraine, stronger than ever before.

pawian 222 | 24,343
24 Mar 2024 #17
I noticed this tradition a few years ago - clergy grow palm plants in their churches in order to use their leaves on Palm Sunday. The most popular species is Dypsis Lutensces called palma areka in Polish.

jon357 74 | 21,980
25 Mar 2024 #18
palm plants

The palms used on Palm Sunday in PL remind me of the very traditional Corn Dollies in the UK, essentially a pre-Christian tradition.

Lyzko 45 | 9,391
25 Mar 2024 #19
I forgot for a moment when it's appropriate to wish someone "MOKREGO SMIGUSA DYNGUSA!"

Whoops, just got the answer from looking at the original post, sorry.
jon357 74 | 21,980
25 Mar 2024 #20

Don't forget that you have to throw a bucket of water over the key while you're saying it.

And if you've got a convent of Polish nuns nearby and there's a river in the vicinity, just wait until the Topienie Marzanny...
Alien 20 | 4,925
25 Mar 2024 #21

This one is only a week away.
pawian 222 | 24,343
25 Mar 2024 #22
convent of Polish nuns nearby and there's a river in the vicinity, just wait until the Topienie Marzanny...

Do you think of combining two customs into one?? : Drowning Marzana as a symbol of passing winter and doing a witch test on suspected women by throwing them into water to see who floats and proves a witch. Some of those nuns can be really satanic.
jon357 74 | 21,980
25 Mar 2024 #23
Do you think of combining two customs into one??

That could be fun.

We could combine it with the ancient Iranian/Kurdish (very Sarmacki) custom of Nowruz and make them jump over a bonfire as well.
pawian 222 | 24,343
25 Mar 2024 #24
ancient Iranian/Kurdish custom make them jump over a bonfire as well.

Actually, it was also the custom of Polish Highlanders or other folk groups. They did it on Great Saturday before Easter and the campfire was called Sobótka:

jon357 74 | 21,980
25 Mar 2024 #25
Great Saturday

Usually Easter Saturday in English, sometimes Holy Saturday. Quite appropriate really since some churches (certainly the Anglicans and the RC church) have the Holy Fire at the vigil Mass.

There's also a tradition in the U.K. of printers and journalists having a celebration on Maundy Thursday. Historically they didn't have to work on that day since there was no newspaper on Good Friday. The celebration was called a Waysgoose for some reason.
pawian 222 | 24,343
25 Mar 2024 #26
Usually Easter Saturday in English

Yes, I was thinking in Polish. :):):) My British upbringing which some posters ascribe to me has gone to the forest which in Polish means it got lost. :):):)
Miloslaw 19 | 4,856
25 Mar 2024 #27
My British upbringing

What British upbringing?Where were you born? Britain or Poland?
Be careful now..... honesty is the best policy.....
pawian 222 | 24,343
26 Mar 2024 #28
Where were you born?

Who cares where apes are born??? :):):)
pawian 222 | 24,343
30 Mar 2024 #29
I have just cleaned the toilet with highest accuracy possible and am going to do the same with the bathroom. My wife is making cakes. Kids who reside with us are still sleeping. They worked hard yesterday cleaning the windows and their rooms. ):):)

That`s the model Polish family just before Easter. :):):)
pawian 222 | 24,343
30 Mar 2024 #30
My wife is making cakes.

This year, however, she isn`t baking poppy seed cake which is my No 1, even before cheese cake.
So, I am going to take care of it myself. In Polish shops you can buy canned poppy seed pulp but it contains additives. Poppy seed is also available but you need to grind it on your own. The best choice is already ground poppy seed.

The problem is I am going to make it on Monday or even Tuesday coz now I mustn`t loiter in the kitchen and get in the way of other culinary masters..... :):):):)

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