Like other years before, this Easter was spent in Warsaw with the family doing typically Polish Easter things. Here’s an idea of what that involves for a family using the ‘Catholic-Lite’ version of the software.
Good Friday – Not a Bank Holiday & nothing much happens. Good day to buy all those DIY widgets you need because everywhere is closed for the next three days.
The flock gather – in our case through Warsaw New Town Square on the way to the brick tower in the background. Not the sexy white place as that’s inhabited mostly by strange nuns with tall hats who are good at sitting very still for very long periods of time.
The Easter baskets are placed on the table inside the church and we all wait for the duty vicar to come along and bless them. The blessing involves a passage straight from the bible followed by the dipping of a brush into a bowl of holy water and then splashing the water over the baskets (and anyone standing too close). After the splashing there’s usually a more off the cuff chat from the vicar that includes adverts like “come to church more often” or “we need a new roof”.
Before you leave the church you pick up your own bottle of holy water so you can splash it around the house, cat, everything, when you get home. This annoys the cat but does protect him from werewolves and other demons. A common problem in our part of Warsaw.
After more eating back at the in-law’s place you embark on a walking tour of the nearby churches. In our case this takes in the whole of the Old & New Towns. You do this partly to escape from even more eating and partly to check out the various ‘installations’ that have been erected.
There are queues outside every church, the biggest outside the Cathedral where, as usual, TVP are setting up lights and cameras presumably to film an Easter service later in the day. As usual, even with a holy queue, you have to fight off people trying to push in and separate you from your family. Having done that, they then spend the rest of the queue shoving you in the back. Not very Christian, methinks.
The most fun is playing ‘secret pictures’ while walking from one place to another.
The strangest thing is the way bald monks enjoy lighting small bonfires outside the churches. I have yet to work out what this is all about?!
After the walking tour you get to eat some more and then eventually to go home and come back the next day.
Easter Sunday –
Sunday starts badly because you need to wear a suit and tie. When you get to the in-law’s the day starts with the traditional sharing of egg, bread & sausage that were in the basket the previous day and therefore form a sort of holy breakfast appetiser. Along with the snacks go a lot of good wishes and family-hug type activities. This then leads into a full blown meal, of course. After the meal you get to go to church again but this time for a proper service and this time to the ‘Armed Forces’ church on Długa (opposite the uprising monument). The church is busy, additionally so thanks to the number of babies being baptised. It’s hard to concentrate with so many flash photographs being taken. I swear the baby in front of me, cute though it was, didn’t go 15 seconds of the entire service without being blinded by the over enthusiastic friends and family charged with recording the incident for prosperity. No wonder it cried the entire time, I’d have done the same.
The church has some interesting features:
Military imagery such as holy warriors on the ceiling above the altar….
…and an array of medals on the wall behind the altar
My favourite is the window that was made by Poland’s only Rastafarian stained glass craftsman and depicts Bob Marley in a biblical scene. You’d need to go see it to prove that I’m right!
The organ, whilst not remotely funny, is a great example of how much time effort and money can be spent in the name of God. Top marks to the organist for giving us Handel’s Messiah on the way out.
On the walk back home for yet more food we pass behind the law courts and see my favourite architectural ladies. Amazing that they are pretty much completely hidden from view for 99% of the people checking out this building. For a sense of scale, these are perhaps 4-5m tall.
Easter Monday – that’s today. It is a bank holiday. For us a fairly relaxed day, walk in the park, write a blog post…..