After the 40 days of the Lent, comes the important Christian tradition of Easter.
The Easter Period starts on Ash Wednesday. On this day Lent starts and lasts 40 days to remind us the 40 days Christ spent in the desert tempted by the Devil.
The time of Lent is for retrospection and to prepare for Easter with understanding and respect. During Lent Christians do not have parties or any other forms of entertainment and on Fridays, the day of the Crucifixion, they fast.
Fasting culminates on Good Friday when a stricter fast is practiced - according to the church one full meal can be eaten that day but no meat.
I was just visiting the home of my parents I noticed - that in every Polish house, special culinary preparations are already in progress. Traditional Easter dishes require planning, time and seasoning.
Traditional Saturday activity is the preparation of Easter baskets.
Lined with a white linen or lace napkin and decorated with sprigs of boxwood (bukszpan), the baskets contain a sampling of Easter foods: Easter eggs (pisanki), a piece of sausage or ham, salt and pepper, bread, a piece of cake and an Easter Lamb made of sugar, bread or even plastic.
These are brought to churches for blessing.
The tradition of decorating eggs is still very popular and children are often engaged in this so that parents can wind up the holiday preparations.
And here comes the Sunday Easter breakfast, a family meal which consists of many traditional dishes and specialities of Slavic cuisine – rye soup (żurek), white roasted sausage, ham or pate served with tatar sauce, egg dishes, and homemade pastry from mazurkas and cheesecakes to tall and airy Easter yeast cakes topped with plenty of sugar icings.
While in many countries Easter egg is mainly served in the form of chocolate with a bunny, in Poland it is prepared in numerous variations: stuffed with mushrooms and breadcrumbs, in mayonnaise, in soups and salads. In addition, it has other special significance as a symbol of life, fertility, joy and health. Sharing an egg during breakfast and making a wish is a purely Polish custom.
The Easter Monday is also a family celebration, less spectacular than the day before, but definitely continued tradition of visiting closests relatives or friends.
While, for example, the Dutch visit garden centers in the second day, and young Poles prefer the festively celebrated folk fun, smigus-dyngus, (water fights) which can be treated as a large dose of fun, exercise and a good way to burn the calories.