Swięconka, the blessing of Easter baskets is a tradition near and dear to the hearts of every Pole. This year making the trek back home to Cleveland from Toledo was a little more than I bargained for. While Toledo is on the extreme western part of Lake Erie and free of lake effect snow, Cleveland on the other hand was plummeted with the white stuff Easter weekend. Unusual for even the snow belt in April.
Sister Cheryl and I ventured out in sometimes near whiteout conditions to head for St. Stanislaus the Church of our baptism in Cleveland's Warsawa District. Now a Shrine Church the Holy place of worship still run by Franciscans has been immaculately restored to its original splendor.
Arriving early for the 11 AM ceremony, one of five scheduled on Holy Saturday, I snapped this picture showing the traditional pussy willow branches decorating the main aisle. Since palms are not native to Poland the pussy willows were used as a substitute in the old days. The ones blessed on Palm Sunday found their way tucked behind frames of Holy pictures in the home, where they stayed the entire year.
Visiting the tomb of Christ is part of the Easter tradition, St. Stan's displays the entombed Savior in the left side alter with an angel posted as sentinel awaiting the Resurrection. The crucifixion alter gathers together all the elements of the suffering, sorrow, death in the person of Christ and the life of every disciple.
The blessing of the baskets was bilingual. One priest officiated in the mother tongue, the other in English. The congregation need not worry if they had not yet showered this morning as the priests in typical style were very liberal with the dispensing of holy water. I dare say I was not so dowsed on Dyngus Day as I was in the pew.
Typical content of the baskets included the usual and customary eggs, paska, kielbasa, ham, salt, butter, cheese and horseradish. The lady in the pew in front of us even had a can of Pabst Blue Ribbon Beer in her basket.
As for the snow, it didn't seem to negatively affect beast nor man. Here, one of my sister's friendly nieghbors comes to her back yard for a visit on Holy Saturday hoping we'd share a slice of freshly blessed paska.
Labels: basket, blessing, church, Cleveland, Easter, Holy Saturday, Polish, Polish priests, St. Stanislaus, Swienconka