Easter in Warsaw

So here we are, another Easter arrives and for us at least we’re following the well worn footsteps of yesteryear with all the pomp and ceremony that a Catholic Easter in Warsaw demands.

It starts with a trip to the supermarket to buy more food than we will ever stand a chance of eating. This made worse by an Easter country food parcel arriving from our source in Mazury and this morning by a truck load of yummy cakes from Joanna. If anyone is hungry this Easter please come visit us!

The baskets are dragged in from the storage room, cleaned up and dressed. Assorted chicken and egg decorations are splattered around the home, a palm or two are purchased along with various other Easter flowers and greenery. It’s a bit like Christmas but without the toys and Santa.

For not terribly good Catholics Easter is two days. The first day, Saturday, is ‘basket day’ and the second day, today, is ‘family day’. Basket day starts with a trip to the church to get the baskets blessed and to collect a supply of holy water.

At the church with our baskets

Our church celebrating 600 years in business

The blessing ceremony

Holy water

From the rear of our church you can look down to the river and the new fountains they have been building that are soon due to open and brighten up the drive along wisłostrada.

The new fountains

On the way back we pass through the ‘new town’, which is part of the ‘old town’.

Heading for new town square from our church

New town square from Freta

It’s then back to babcia’s home for herrings, barszcz and other goodies before heading back out onto the streets for a church tour. The story is that we should visit ten churches although I’m not sure I believe this as what are you supposed to do if you live in a remote village? Driving around until you’ve found nine other churches might take a while, especially after a few vodkas. Fortunately for us we don’t live in a remote village so finding ten churches can be done within a very comfortable stroll from babcia’s place. We did all ten of them, well I actually skipped one of them so I’m going straight to hell. Our favourite, as usual, was Kościół św. Marcina w Warszawie, on a street parallel to the cathedral and would be facing it if there were not buildings in the way. It’s a very modest church that seems to be operated by brown nuns and it has a very distinctive style.

We do the walk and join the queues waiting to get into most of the churches to see the special Easter displays. A lot of churches were following the same theme this year, that of a large dead Jesus lying on the ground partly wrapped in the Turin shroud with other decorative elements and words of wisdom going on around him. The dead Jesus figures were not evident last year so I suspect Warsaw was hit by a very persuasive dead Jesus salesman sometime in the intervening months. Either that or they were a giveaway if you bought any three altar cloths from ‘Religious Stuff R Us’. For the most part these Easter scenes are done with the utmost devotion, sincerity and no doubt humility – none of which removes the fact that they are generally quite depressing.

Warsaw cathedral stayed with the plastic Jesus theme but enhanced it with a collection of crosses carved with meaningful dates, thankfully free of bloodstains.

Easter crosses at the cathedral.

All photos with the iPhone 4.

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7 thoughts on “Easter in Warsaw

  1. Wielkanoc: Happy Easter to you and your family Scatts
    Wez koszyczek doswej piesci
    do kosciola idz poswiecic
    Wloz szyneczke kilka jajek
    Smacznej babki tez kawalek
    Sprobuj smioscic i kilbase
    Nie zaponnij cbrzanu czasem :)

    I made this year first babka in my lifetime.

  2. I’m the wrong man to ask. I’m not a religious person and so in the UK I never went to church except for weddings and funerals.

    A non-religious Easter involves the family, plenty of chocolate eggs and often a bit of DIY around the house!

    A religious one will involve a palm on ‘Palm Sunday’ (Sunday before Easter) although the palms are much simpler, often just a palm leaf twisted into the shape of a cross. Then an Easter church service but without the baskets & holy water. I’m not sure whether the churches put on displays.

  3. Easter in the UK starts on Good Friday, where our modern two class system is very noticeable – those who have to work and those that don’t! I’m a don’t so can enjoy. Hot cross buns on Good Friday but most people where I live (a tourist resort) do work and – with the weather singing this Easter – it’s been manic for them.
    Easter Saturday is a pretty normal day and we went shopping and did some DIY (DIY is a big thing in the UK and when you have four days off work, who can resist?)
    Easter Sunday is a family day full of chocolate eggs and no time for
    Church. We went on a walk and watched the crowds from afar burning themselves on the local beach. The tradition is a roast dinner but at 25 degrees in the shade yesterday, a BBQ was the preferred option for most people.
    Today is finishing off the DIY as it’s back to work tomorrow, or in my daughters case, panic French revision as she has a GCSE exam coming up and Easter holidays were such good weather she found rather more exciting things to do and is now paying for it.
    So, essentially, Easter here has lost it’s historical meaning but we do –
    Sometimes – watch a Easter film just to remind us of why we have four days off of work.

  4. This was very interesting. I spent Easter with 2 Polish-Canadians and I have never heard of this tradition. Then again, they never actually lived in Poland. Your commentary was bliss. For our family, Easter has lost pretty much all of the old traditions; we just get together and eat whatever.

  5. Babka was edible. Let me just say it was a huge learning experience for me. Lots of work and so much taken for granted when my mom use to do all the cooking and baking. I’ll just need to keep practicing till I get it right.

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