In the Polish tradition and many of the eastern European countries, Easter baskets are blessed the day before Easter, known as Holy Saturday. Baskets are filled with a sampling of the foods to be eaten on Easter Sunday. The contents vary according to its owners. I’ve seen baskets filled with butter in the shape of a lamb, Easter candy, colored eggs, Polish sausages, leg of lamb, ham, asparagus, Greek Easter bread, flowers, candles, wine, salt, and anything that will represent the Easter dinner. Swieconka (sh-vee-en-soon-kah), as this tradition is known in Poland, is one of the most enduring and beloved Polish traditions.
Not being Polish and not living in Eastern Europe, I came to this tradition late, but nonetheless, it is one that I’ve cherished on Holy Saturday mornings for the last ten years. My friend Melanie always makes me a lamb made out of butter from a special mold. One year I asked her where I can get a mold, and she said no need, she will just keep making me one every year. Lucky me!
This morning’s baskets did not disappoint. After the priest blessed the baskets (and us), we admired each other’s selections. I love to see what everyone brings as a representation of their Easter food. My basket had asparagus, chocolates, colored eggs, tulips, Spanish wine, vodka, limes, strawberries, and perhaps most important to me, salt and baking soda. I will use the blessed salt and baking soda throughout the year in all my recipes. Although I will still burn my share of cookies or have a dish that flops, blessed salt can’t hurt, right?
There is something that feels good about resurrecting a tradition from the past or borrowing one from another county and making it your own. The old ways really do work. Happy Easter!