Polish Easter and the Polish Mazurek cake

March 25, 2013 in Basic Information, Food, General, History, Leisure, Lifestyle, Polish Matters, Travelling Poland

polish mazurek 300x168 Polish Easter and the Polish Mazurek cake

(C) by BlogOfPoland.com

Easter is approaching fast (too fast perhaps – time really is flying) and it’s about time to write something about the Polish Easter traditions. There are many, coming both from the Catholic religion as well as from pure, national habits. Hopefully, I will have the time to go through many of them, but we’ll start with the Polish Mazurek – an Easter cake.

Easter is probably the same in all Catholic families, but just in case I’ll briefly outline how it’s done here in Poland. For me, Easter really starts with Palm Sunday (which was yesterday). On this particular Sunday, the Mass is different in that the Gospel reading is long and deals with Christ’s “process” and crucifiction. It is often read out as a role play, in which the Priest reads out the words of Jesus while other people read out the parts of others involved, and the lector as such. During this mass, also the palms are being consecrated. The Polish palms deserve a topic of their own, and I will do my best to get back to them as soon as possible.

The Palm Sunday starts a week of preparation for Easter. Before Good Friday we’d generally get some cooking done. Apart from that, as Easter is also close to the beginning of spring, spring house cleaning is in the process and becoming quite a nuisance to children icon smile Polish Easter and the Polish Mazurek cake By Catholic law, Good Friday is a strong lent day with no meat whatsoever. Many people tend to fast for the whole day altogether or limit their food to one small meal.

One of the things which would normally be prepared thourgout the week (although nowadays, it’s generally bought) is the Polish Mazurek – a special cake made only for Easter. It consists of two or three layers of shortcut pastry (or a biscuit, however you want to call it) with marmelade or fudge inbetween. What is really special about the Polish Mazurek is the decor on the top. Companies and traditionalists get out of their way to make those as impressive as possible. They are most often made of sugar and depict eggs, spring themes, the Lamb of Jesus, writing, chickens and many other ideas associated with Easter. They often become quite a work of art!

On Easter Saturday, a Catholic family would pack a small basket with different sorts of food and bring it to church to be consecrated. It’s a way of thanking God for the food and, at the same time, praying for the food too last in the coming year. The basket must contain eggs, bread, meat (most often in the form of a sausage) and salt. However, especially with kids in the house, it will also contain cake (like the Polish Mazurek), chocolate (like a chocolate bunny), a small chicken, the Lamb of Jesus made of sugar and many other things. There is no mass on Saturday, just the consecration of food.

Tradition has it, that the lent from Good Friday remains in force until the food is consecrated on Saturday. Others still fast for all of Saturday and wait for Sunday. Easter Sunday starts with the Easter Sunday Mass. After the mass, the families gather for the Easter breakfast (which is generally quite late, as it is after the mass, and often doesn’t start until noon). Here’s where the food starts icon smile Polish Easter and the Polish Mazurek cake

The typical dishes would include:

  • Eggs (of course, as the symbol of life, and by now also the symbol of Easter as such) – just plain cooked, with mayonaise, with chives or stuffed with a variety of stuffings
  • Meat (after lent meat was originally waited for for 40 days) – hams, sausages, turkey and so on
  • Spring salads
  • Much more

The Sunday breakfast most often turns into lunch and dinner, with families spending the whole day together.

Easter Monday, known in Poland as the Smigus-Dyngus, is traditionally a day in which you should attempt to spray your family and friends with water. Of course, this should be only symbolic, but especially young people tend to go outside with buckets and make bypassers soaking wet. For some it’s fun, but many hate it and probably for a good reason.