If you are in Poland in April, on one Saturday you might see people heading somewhere with small baskets in their hands. If you look closer, you'll notice that there's food in the baskets. Those people are carrynig it to church for blessing, because it's Holy Saturday, just before Easter. And having your food blessed on that day is an old Polish tradition.
Polish Easter - food blessing
Just like Christmas, Easter in Poland has its special culinary dimension. The food which is blessed on Holy Saturday is eaten on Easter Sunday during what is called Easter Breakfast. What is carried to church in a small basket is of course just a sample of the whole Easter Breakfast.
The Easter menu is somewhat less stricktly determined than the Christmas one. However it is influenced by traditional Christian symbolism. Its most characteristic element are eggs - a symbol of new life and also of the soul. Some of the eggs are painted in various patterns, often rooted in folk art (Pisanki - "Easter eggs"). Another symbolic article is salt, which represents protection from corruption.
Polish Easter Eggs - Pisanki
Unlike on Christmas Eve, it is customary to have meat on Easter Breakfast. Ham and various kind of sausage are the most important. Roasted duck is a frequent Easter special too, although it can't be spotted in a Holy Saturday basket. It's simply too big to be taken for the blessing :)
Among other things that actually are found in baskets are: bread, whose Christian symbolism is quite clear, various cakes (e.g. mazurek) and often sweets. An important thing which deserves a seperate mention is horseradish. It tastes great with both ham and eggs and makes an indispensable part of good Easter Breakfast. Sometimes it is mixed with mayonnaise, eggs and pieces of cucumber into a sort of salad.
A very common, almost obligatory thing to put in the Easter basket is a sugar lamb which symbolizes the resurrected Christ. The basket is covered with a decorative cloth, and adorned with boxwood leaves.
Probably each Polish family have their own Easter Breakfast menu, but usually most of what we have mentioned above is included. Easter Breakfast is a joyful tradition which combines religious meaning with earthly pleasures of good food and coming spring.