Don’t get scared by the aggressive title – Easter in Poland is actually quite a peaceful occasion celebrated with the family. Poland is a Catholic country so Easter should be the most important holiday accordingly. In fact, it isn’t. It is still Christmas that’s everyone’s favorite. I suspect it’s because of the snow and the fact that we usually get around 2 weeks off for Christmas, whereas only 4-5 days for Easter. Nevertheless, Easter is a beautiful celebration, especially when the weather is fine and one can already feel the spring in the air. And it is especially nice for children who get presents from the little hare! Unfortunately, no gifts for adults this time…
From fast to feast
The beginning is quite sad. Good Friday is time for meditation, time of silence and sacrifice. Most people refrain from eating meat, many restrict the food they consume to bread and some very basic dinner like potatoes (without meat, of course) or a vegetable soup. However unpleasant it may seem, it really increases the joy of eating the following day. Saturday is already a merry holiday (although still meatless in most houses) on which we go to the church to have our Easter food blessed during a short celebration. In our little baskets decorated with green leaves or flowers symbolizing the spring we bring a symbolic amount of eggs, bread, ham and a lamb-shaped cake (lamb is the symbol of Christ arisen) which we will share and eat after wishing each other Happy Easter during the festive breakfast on Sunday morning.
Sunday begins for many with a resurrection mass in the early morning. Others (including myself) sleep in first, eat an exquisite breakfast consisting of above mentioned ingredients and lots of horseradish, and then go to the church. Of course we decorate eggs in many different ways, where I come from, we eat eggs cooked in onion peelings and we sculpt ornaments on the brown-red eggshells. Before they are ready to be eaten, however, the eggs need to stay for a while in this onion extract. And they should get there cracked. So the egg fight mentioned in the title does not really include throwing raw eggs at each other but knocking cooked eggs against each other. The winner is the “toughest” egg, the one that cracks last (or rather the person who had it because even the toughest egg ends up cracked in the onion water 😉 ).
Wet wet wet
If Easter is warm and sunny it is a great tradition, if it’s cold (and it can be still very cold in March in Poland) it turns into a nightmare – the so-called lany poniedziałek or śmigus-dyngus – the Easter Monday custom of dousing young women with water, as my Oxford dictionary nicely puts it. Meanwhile it is not only young women who are victims of this custom, the innocent tradition that began with sprinkling young ladies with a bit of perfumed water developed into regular water fights in the streets and it is indeed highly inadvisable to go outside on Easter Monday. But as I said, when it is hot a bit of water fight might actually be great fun and a huge relief.
So, if you’re up to some egg and water fighting but most of all you want to experience nice family atmosphere and eat lots of yummy food, come to Poland during Easter!