There are many religious holidays celebrated in Poland, but certainly Easter holiday is the most important. This is the time when Poles commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Interestingly, even some non-Christian families follow many of Easter traditions. However, there are various regional traditions, which origins are both Christian and folk. Because Easter meals are deeply symbolic, many customs are connected with food. Just like Christmas, Easter food plays a crucial role in the celebrations.
It all starts on Holy Saturday when people head to church with baskets full of food. The old tradition of blessing food before the resurrection is still present in Poland, and should ensure a good harvest year. The Easter basket contains bread, which symbolizes Christ’s body, hard- boiled, colored eggs, which stand for rebirth. The basket also includes ham, salt, horseradish, sausage, home-made cake, and sometimes a sugar lamb.
The custom of decorating and coloring hard-boiled eggs is still kept in some regions of Poland.
The food blessed on Saturday is then served on Holy Sunday after the Resurrection mass. During a traditional Easter breakfast the table is beautifully decorated with white tablecloth and flowers. Among the traditional dishes are baked ham, sausages, eggs, bread and home-made cake. In some parts of Poland there may be some soups served; zurek or barszcz – beetroot soup.
Undoubtedly, many pastries and sweets are eaten during the Easter time. The most common are babka, mazurek and sernik – cheesecake. Polish babka is made of yeast dough with raisins. Mazurek is a flat Polish cake made from different bases. Mazurek may have various toppings depending on the region and family. Unlike mazurek, which must be rather flat, babka may be put in a traditional form or in a form resembling a lam or a hare. An Easter hare is not purely a Polish tradition but has been adapted from Germany and now is one of the symbols of Polish Easter.
If you’d like to bake Polish Easter Babka, you may try this easy recipe:
Polish Easter Babka
5 dkg (2oz)of yeast
3 glasses of flour
200g (7oz) of butter
1 glass of sugar
1 glass of milk
1/4 tsp. salt
Dissolve butter in warm milk. In a large bowl, combine and knead butter, sugar, eggs, flour, salt and yeast. Put dough in a greased form. Stir in raisins, nuts and wait for 3 hours. When the dough is doubled heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius (350 degrees Fahrenheit) and bake for about 45min.