We are now into the last day of the second most significant religious holiday in the Polish calendar, Easter.
And if you are wondering why Easter, unlike Christmas, falls on different days and months each year, well it's all to do with moon. Easter Sunday is the first Sunday after the first full moon that follows the vernal equinox. There is a reason for this, but it's better to ask the experts – I'm sure a Priest would be happy to explain.
If there is one thing you learn about living in Poland, it's the value people have put on tradition. The Polish Easter I have got to know over the years looks a bit like this:
- Step 1: Wash all the windows where you live thoroughly.
- Step 2: Spring clean and tidy the house (Often to a standard that would keep all health inspectors satisfied!).
- Step 3: Go to Church (at least from Palm Sunday onwards).
- Step 4: Paint and decorate eggs, which are often boiled with various coloured dyes.
- Step 5: Go back to church on the Saturday before Easter Sunday and have your boiled eggs blessed. You'll need help with this, as it is customary to place the eggs in a small wicker basket. This generally also includes bread, butter, salt, and a bit of sausage, with the basket itself lined by a white presentation doily.
- Step 6: Enjoy a family breakfast, and share boiled eggs with each other as you impart wishes of happiness and fulfillment.
- Step 7: Spend the rest of the holiday eating cake, visiting friends and family, and maybe drinking vodka (some variations may apply).
- Step 8: Avoid getting wet, as Easter Monday is known locally as 'Wet Monday'. This isn't because it's usually raining, but due to the strange tradition of soaking passers by on the street as well as members of your family at home with water. It may sound quaint, but I have regularly seen water squads out with buckets targeting pensioners!
Today, although this process generally still true, people are starting to have other ideas. In Italy they say "Natale con i tuoi, Pasqua con chi vuoi" which means 'Christmas with the family, Easter as you wish'.
As older generations make way for the new and capitalism closes its grip, we can all question our values more openly, and so the world turns and changes. The sugar ram is being replaced with the Easter bunny; the chicken egg with the brand name Easter bunny and chocolate egg; the family breakfast at home with a trip abroad.
Whatever you may decide to do, Easter has to be valued as it gives you a few days off work to relax, adding to the many other long weekends this great country enjoys!