Eggs, lamb, bread and salt are an integral part of the Easter basket. What do the most popular dishes celebrated on Holy Saturday symbolize, what products should be in the basket and which should be avoided?
Blessing of food intended for the festive table traditionally takes place on Holy Saturday before noon. As Archbishop Adam Szal, the Metropolitan of Przemyśl, explained, the custom has its roots in the Old Testament – every Jewish family celebrated Passover, and the special food eaten on that day was lamb.
Lamb – made of dough or sugar – is one of the inseparable elements of the Easter basket. What does it symbolize and what else should be included in the Easter basket?
What to put in an Easter basket
The Święconka should contain products with rich symbolism, referring to the Passion of Christ, related to the Resurrection and eternal life.
Eggs – symbolize victory over death, a new beginning, the resurrected Christ and the promise of eternal life. Some people believe that you need to put an odd number of eggs in an Easter basket. In many homes, before Easter breakfast, families share a blessed egg as for Christmas wafer and make wishes to each other. According to the Ethnographic Museum in Warsaw, it used to be believed that sharing an egg strengthens family ties.
Bread – in Christianity, it symbolizes the body of Christ. This is why bread in Święconka is sometimes decorated with a cross or a “crown of thorns” made of twigs. It used to be believed that placing bread in a Christmas basket would bring prosperity.
Lamb – once mainly made of butter or dough, today also made of white chocolate or sugar. It symbolizes Christ – gentle, humble, innocent, sacrificed – and is to remind you what Easter is really about. That is why Pope Urban V in the 14th century introduced the custom of placing a figure of a lamb on the Easter table. In some regions of Poland, the lamb is called Agnuszek, from the Latin words “Agnus Dei” meaning Lamb of God.
Salt – formerly considered a product with the power to deter all evil. A symbol of purification, durability (eternal life) and protection against sin (because it protects food from spoilage).
Horseradish – refers to the passion of Christ (because it is sharp and causes tears), and at the same time to overcoming suffering (because it symbolizes strength). The presence of horseradish in Święconka is to guarantee the health and fitness of the household members.
Sausage, ham, cold cuts – meat products are also supposed to ensure health, they symbolize wealth and prosperity, they also refer to the motif of the sacrifice of a lamb killed on the Jewish holiday of Passover. Sausage is supposed to ensure health and fertility, as well as abundance – in the past, not everyone could afford this type of food.
Easter cakeor possibly a mazurka – a symbol of skill and perfection. Baking should be home-made, because in addition to abundance, it symbolizes resourcefulness, talents and skills, not only culinary. It was believed that putting the cake in the Easter basket will allow you to enjoy these qualities also in the future. Its sweetness, in turn, is to reward the survival of Lent.
You can also find them in Easter baskets chickensalso symbolizing a new life, and by hatching from an egg associated with Christ rising from the grave, pepperas well as horseradish referring to the Passion of Christ and the hard work of the Israelites in Egyptian captivity, or cheese, symbolizing the friendship between man and the forces of nature. His dedication is also to ensure the well-being of domestic animals.
Easter. What not to put in the basket?
Although there are various products in the Easter basket, there are some that should not go there. – The Easter basket should contain what we eat and which also has a symbolic connection with Easter – Father Marek Wójcik, parish priest in Pasztowa Wola, explained in an interview with Dzien Dobry TVN. Therefore, the Christmas basket should not include:
– toys, – alcohol and other drinks – except for water, – utility items, such as a telephone, other items, – food in packages and containers: sweets, snacks, chocolate bunnies, – fruit and vegetables – the exception is horseradish.
ethnomuseum.pl, museum-radom.pl, PAP, Dzien Dobry TVN
Main photo source: SylwiaMoz/Shutterstock