After 40 days of Lent comes the Easter holiday. It begins with Palm Sunday. The palms are inseparable part of Polish culture and tradition during Easter time. They are made using traditional materials such as: desiccated flowers, grass, corns and herbs. These substitutes were used in place of real subtropical palms, which were never easy to obtain in Poland.
It is customary to begin Palm Sunday services with a procession. People keep their palms high to have them blessed by a priest before the Mass ceremony and then they circle the parish church three times.
Maundy Thursday is the first day of Easter Triduum. The next, Good Friday, marks the start of the vigil at symbolic tombs of Christ, which lasts until Holy Saturday. Good Friday was a day of mourning. People are supposed not to eat meat.
Tomb Of Christ is traditionally arranged on Good Friday. A lifesize figure of Christ lying in His tomb is widely visited by the faithful, especially on Holy Saturday. Each parish strives to come up with the most artistically and religiously evocative arrangement.
On Easter Saturday we go to church to bless eggs and other food. This typically Polish tradition dates back to the 14th century. People bring baskets of their Easter fare to church for a special blessing for all the different Easter foods.
Inside the basket they place beautifully dyed and decorated eggs which we call pisanki , bread, cake, salt, paper and sausages. All that is contained in the basket the colored eggs mean the risen Christ, the bread and salt are for good health and a prosperous life, the sausages are supposed to be a wish for enough food and fertility for the coming spring.
The basket is traditionally lined with a white linen or lace napkin and decorated with sprigs of boxwood , the typical Easter evergreen.
On Easter Saturday people visit also the tomb of Christ. Tradition says that the tomb must be looked after young boys or men ( firemen and scouts ) the whole night before Easter Sunday.
The family breakfast on Easter Sunday morning is an important part of Polish Easter celebration. On the breakfast table, each of the participants wishes the others of the family good luck and happiness. The food to be eaten is usually blessed by the priest.
The table is decorated with green leaves and a sugar or butter lamb may be placed as a centre-piece.
Typical Polish Easter cakes are: mazurek and babka. Mazurek is a holiday cake which is prepared only for Easter. It is a flat cake, usually on a pastry or a wafer, covered with paste of nuts, almonds, cheese, colorfully decorated with jam, and raisins. On top of this, decorations are placed, such as eggs of icing willow branches made of marzipan, chocolate flowers, and others.
Babka is a yeast vanilla or lemon cake, typical for Polish Easter. It is called babka , a provincialism for woman. The cake is always baked in a fluted pan and resembles (the skirt of a woman ) .
On Easter Monday there is a very ancient Easter tradition called Śmingus-Dyngus – custom of pouring water on one another. On this day boys roam around the neighborhood to sprinkle girls with water or perfume. This custom of watering has its roots in pagan traditions since the pouring of water is an ancient spring symbol of cleansing and purification .
It is said that girls who get caught and soaked with water will marry within the year. This may be the very reason why some girls make feeble attempts to escape the dousing. In Poland for over 800 years Easter Monday has been Switching Day . On this day boys swat their girlfriends with a small willow branch.