Buffalo’s Polish Easter Customs – Dale’s Daily Data
Since Buffalo has a heavy Polish heritage I thought we’d tell you about some of the old Polish customs of Easter week – in which Polish Catholics spend the most time in devotion to the church. Because of the northern climate of Poland, pussy willows traditionally are substituted for palm leaves on Palm Sunday and an old Polish custom is to swallow one of the pussy willow buds to ensure good health thru the year. On Holy Wednesday, youngsters traditionally push an effigy of Judas from a church steeple, then drag it thru the village, pounding it with sticks and stones and then drown what was left of it in a nearby pond or river.
Holy Thursday remembers the Last Supper and in churches, bishops and priests wash the feet of 12 parishoners, just as Christ washed the feet of the 12 apostles. Then the faithful make a pilgrimage to seven nearby churches.
Good Friday is the most solemn day of the year. Polish traditions call for no music to be played in church. Altars are bare. For the only time during the year, communion is not given during mass. Men of the parish carry the crucifix thru the streets accompanied by altar boys clapping sticks of wood together to symbolize the nailing to the cross.
Holy Saturday traditions including the blessing of the baskets in which a sampling of Easter foods are brought to the church to be blessed. Often the baskets will include butter molds, candy and cakes in the form of a lamb symbolizing the sacrifice of the lamb of god in the Eurcharist.
And the week concludes with the Easter Sunday celebrations that begin with the ringing of church bells beginning at dawn, morning mass, then an Easter breakfast including many of the things given up for lent – ham, kielbasa, hard boiled eggs in various sauces and holiday cakes like babka – a sweet bread cake, makove-ets – poppy seed cake and sernik – Polish style cheesecake.