Polish Lent and Easter 2017
By Robert Strybel, Polish/Polonian Affairs Writer
Here are some customs and artifacts associated with our Polish Paschal heritage. They may refresh your memory or expose you to things you may not be familiar with. Feel free to print them in your PolAm club newsletter, parish bulletin or social-networking site..
INVOLVING THE YOUNG’UNS: The only way to ensure the continuity of our heritage is to expose our youngsters to its customs at a formative, preschool age. Preschoolers want to be part of things and Easter provides interesting opportunities such as coloring eggs and blessing food baskets, visiting Christ’s tomb, coking traditional delicacies, Polish Easter games, śmigus-dyngus, etc.
POLISH EASTER GOODS: Polish Easter-related goods are available at Polish Art Center of Hamtramck (Detroit), Michigan including Easter eggs and egg-coloring kits, books on Polish customs and traditions, butter lamb molds, videos, recordings, gift items, folkcrafts, sweets and more. Holidng an Easter fair or other fund-raiser? You can expect a nice discount on quantity orders. Contact: Polish Art Center, 9539 Joseph Campau, Hamtramck, MI 48212; phone: 1-313-874-2242; toll-free: 1-888-619-9771; www.polartcenter.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
LENTEN SUPPERS: Good socializers and fund-raisers are Lenten suppers on Wednesdays and Fridays during Lent. In addition to typical fish-fry fare, consdier adding pierogi, należniki, potato pancakes, herring and żur (sour fryemeal soup) to the menu.
the preparation of holiday food parcels and their delivery to the homes of the needy.
LENT AND EASTER CAR-POOL: Car-pool-type bus or van trasnport to Lent and Easter activities as wełł as retail stores in old Polish neighborhoods serves a twofold purpose: they enable the elderly and others who prefer not to drive to the inner city the opportunity to participate and inrease attendance at those events.
EASTER CRAFTS: Polish Easter eggs https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pisanka_(Polish), Easter palms (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Easter_palm), Easter-themed wycinanki paper cut-outs (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vytynanky_(Wycinanki) andhand-carved wooden butter-lamb molds (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butter_lamb) aretradtional Easter crafts you mgiht like to try your hand at.
HELPING THE NEEDY: Apart from prayer and fasting, giving alms is another of Lent’s pious practices. This can be done nowadays by setting out a large basket at the back of the church or at a PolAm club in which donated food and other supplies can be placed. At an early age, youngsters should be involved in makiung up and distributing holiday food parcels for the neighborhood needy.
PUSSY WILLOWS: In addition to the rod-type wildflower bouquets known as Polish Easter palms, it is pussywillow bouquets that are blessed in Polish churches on Palm Sunday. These furry catkins are also a symbol of Easter, found in homes, churches and business places over the holidays.
PALM SUNDAY: An outdoor procession with pussywillows and rod-type bouquets available to parishioners will give an authentic Polish twist to your Palm Sunday celebration. If possible, someone playing the role of Jesus could lead the procession astride a donkey.
PALM SUNDAY DINNER: A community dinner on Palm Sunday is a good way to provide a preview to the Polish-style Easter feast especially for the benefit of those who have drifted away from the custom. It could be held at the same venue as the Polish Easter Fair (below).
POLISH EASTER MARKET: Any time from Palm Sunday through Holy Saturday, with the exception of Good Friday, is a good time to hold a “jarmark wielkanocny”. wiąteczny”. It could feature Polish Easter crafts and artifacts (Polish Easter palms, pisanki, pisanki-making kits, Easter lambs, butter-lamb molds, wicker baskets, cook books, recorded Easter hymns, etc.). Holy Saturday would be the best time for a Polish Easter bake and food sale
CONCERT OF SACRED MUSIC: A concert of Polish Lenten and/or Easter hymns could be performed by a choir, orchestra or soloist at church after Mass on Palm Sunday or during the following days of Holy Week. Lenten hymns include: “Ludu mój ludu”, “Krzyżu Chrystusa” and “Ach, mój Jezu”. Popular Easter hymns are: “Wesoły nam dzień dziś nastał”, “Zwycięzca śmierci” and ”Otrzyjcie już łzy płaczący”.
PASCHAL TRIDUUM: Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday are the most important three days of Holy Week. Check out the car-pool entry (above) to see how you can enable more people to attend.
LORD’S TOMB: It is a Polish custom to set up a tagbleau of Chrsit’s Tomb at oen of the side altars on Good Friday evening, It presents the lifeless body of Jesus lying in His grave and is oftne surroudned by flowers and candles. It is visited all day Holy Saturday.
HONOR GUARD: Honor guards watch over the Lord’s Tomb on Good Friday and Holy Saturday. These are memebrs of parish societies and often uniformed groups (veterans, scouts, fire-fighters, etc.),
FOOD BLESSING: The blessing of traditonal Easter fare is the most popular typically Polish Easter custom. After the blessing, the faithful traditionally visit and pray at Christ’s Tomb. Check out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eV6jP11Yl2E
MASS OF RESURRECTION: The sunrise mass on Easter morning begins with an outdoor Eucharistic procession that encircles the church three times. The beautiful old hymns, the church decked out in flowers and greenery, the blazing candles and uplifting sermon all contribute to the congregation’s spiritual enrichment.
COMMUNITY EASTER BRUNCH: A community brunch after Easter Sunday mass is recommended wherever the święcone home custom is no longer widely practiced.
DYNGUS DAY: Easter Monday is celebrated as Dyngus Day which features traditional Polish Easter food and drink, music, dancing and general merriment including the śmigus-dyngus drenching custom.
ŚWIĘCONKA: This purely Polish-American social is like Dyngus Day without the drenching. It is held during the week after Easter, usually at the weekend,
EASTER RE-ENACTMENT: Polish Easter customs including the food blessing, Easter Monday drenching and house-to-house trick-or-treating can be re-enacted on stage by a folk-dance group as a separate event or part of Dyngus Day or święconka festivities. It can also be staged at a parish Easter breakfast.
POLISH EASTER GAMES: In the egg-roll, contestants place their eggs at the top of a natural incline (hill or mound) or a plank and release them at a given signal. The egg the rolls the farthest is the winner. In the egg-tap a contestant taps his/her hard-cooked egg against that of a rival. The holder of the egg that does not crack wins.