Easter photos

A selection of shots from our traditional tour of nine churches and one cathedral in the old town. Our itinerary remains the same; go to babcia’s, find a parking place, get babcia, walk to the church and do the Easter Basket thing, pick up some holy water, go to babcia’s and eat, go for a walk around the old town. It covers most of the area on this map:

Easter walking map

Easter walking map

The weather was great. Sunshine, very warm but with a fairly strong breeze as you can see from the balloon lady photo!

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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.

Easter with the family

The same apologies for copying from 20 east but, you know, there are only so many hours in a day!

Well, shouts of “Wesołych Świąt” abound so I guess it must be Easter! In Poland you need to look at the calendar to work out what’s going on because the same “Wesołych Świąt” is used at Christmas. This bugs me because it’s the same as the American “Happy Holidays”, which always seem so….naff. Never mind, everyone is off now to perform the nationwide “holiday shuffle” that involves the following ingredients to one extent or another:

  1. Hitting the food shops as if you are provisioning Noah’s Ark simply because the shops are closed for one day and there’s a 1/10,000 chance that a small tribe might descend upon your home in an uninvited sort of way.
  2. Building up the entire families stress level to approximately four times the normal level through the need to clean the entire house twice and cook all of this food you bought – before the holiday even really starts.
  3. Engaging in family arguments about who’s going to be where on what day, when and who’s bringing the salads. Engaging in major arguments if any members of the extended family decide not to participate in any part of the celebrations.
  4. Making up a basket of goods to be blessed at the church tomorrow. Attend other church services.
  5. Driving around Poland to be in the right place at the right time.
  6. Sitting around with family members pretending to be having a good time when you would really rather be somewhere else having a better time.

Your mileage may vary.

In the heathen UK, this would be genuinely good news. Four days off work (Good Friday is not a holiday in Poland) and a chance to finish off those DIY jobs, take the family out to the countryside/seaside and enjoy some time together or just relax and enjoy some good TV. By family I mean your immediate family, not including the in-laws, out-laws, shake-it-all-about-laws! In Poland however, Easter (Pascha, Niedziela Wielkanocna, Wielkanoc) is not what I would call a ‘holiday’. It is altogether something more serious, more religious, more of a family duty, more stress than relaxation. That has some good points such as tradition & family but I’m beginning to think the list of bad points might be longer.

I suppose it’s different for people who’s family is a long way from Warsaw and these occasions are the only chance they get to spend time together, but that’s not the case with out family. We all live within easy drive of each other here in Warsaw, or close by and so we can and do see each other very often. There’s only so much you have to say and want to do and that’s all said and done a few times over. Now we can sit in the same room for three days and wonder what else there is to talk about? More often than not, the stress of preparing for the holiday means that all that is left to say is not terribly uplifting. Still, the arguments can at least help to pass the time. :)

Easter with the family

Well, shouts of “Wesołych Świąt” abound so I guess it must be Easter! Well, in Poland you need to look at the calendar to work out what’s going on because the same “Wesołych Świąt” is used at Christmas. This bugs me because it’s the same as the American “Happy Holidays”, which always seem so….naff. Never mind, everyone is off now to perform the nationwide “holiday shuffle” that involves the following ingredients to one extent or another:

  1. Hitting the food shops as if you are provisioning Noah’s Ark simply because the shops are closed for one day and there’s a 1/10,000 chance that a small tribe might descend upon your home in an uninvited sort of way.
  2. Building up the entire families stress level to approximately four times the normal level through the need to clean the entire house twice and cook all of this food you bought – before the holiday even really starts.
  3. Engaging in family arguments about who’s going to be where on what day, when and who’s bringing the salads. Engaging in major arguments if any members of the extended family decide not to participate in any part of the celebrations.
  4. Making up a basket of goods to be blessed at the church tomorrow. Attend other church services.
  5. Driving around Poland to be in the right place at the right time.
  6. Sitting around with family members pretending to be having a good time when you would really rather be somewhere else having a better time.

In the heathen UK, this would be genuinely good news. Four days off work (Good Friday is not a holiday in Poland) and a chance to finish off those DIY jobs, take the family out to the countryside/seaside and enjoy some time together or just relax and enjoy some good TV. By family I mean your immediate family, not including the in-laws, out-laws, shake-it-all-about-laws! In Poland however, Easter (Pascha, Niedziela Wielkanocna, Wielkanoc) is not what I would call a ‘holiday’. It is altogether something more serious, more religious, more of a family duty, more stress than relaxation. That has some good points such as tradition & family but I’m beginning to think the list of bad points might be longer.

I suppose it’s different for people who’s family is a long way from Warsaw and these occasions are the only chance they get to spend time together, but that’s not the case with out family. We all live within easy drive of each other here in Warsaw, or close by and so we can and do see each other very often. There’s only so much you have to say and want to do and that’s all said and done a few times over. Now we can sit in the same room for three days and wonder what else there is to talk about? More often than not, the stress of preparing for the holiday means that all that is left to say is not terribly uplifting. Still, the arguments can at least help to pass the time. :)