Easter is major holiday in Poland, and Easter celebrations are not limited to Easter Sunday. Easter-related traditions take place for more than a week in Poland. From Palm Sunday to Wet Monday, this period is marked with religious rites and practices with their origins in pagan times. It is important to note that Easter in Poland is celebrated Western Roman Catholic calendar.
It’s a workday in Poland but the country’s Catholics usually try to visit a church to say a prayer on that very special and solemn day. The faithful fast, eating just two meals and no meat whatsoever.
On Ester Eve everybody, notably children, visits the parish church with a basket of the traditional Easter foodstuff – bread, eggs (pisanki), ham, sausages, and a piece of horseradish – to have them consecrated by priest. It is also the occasion to see ‘the grave of the Lord Jesus’, arranged in a chapel or a crypt, by which scouts, firefighters, the military, etc. stand guard of honor. And the faithful keep long vigils. Pisanki are Easter eggs handcrafted in traditional designs that recall pagan symbols of fertility and spring.
Easter Sunday traditionally remains quiet and confined to the family and the church. First thing in the morning the faithful attend a predawn or very early Resurrection service. Then the whole family has the festive common breakfast featuring the victuals consecrated at the church on Holy Saturday, with the ‘pisanki’ Easter eggs–hardboiled and painted–as the highlight.
Easter Monday is a family holiday in Poland and is called Smigus Dyngus, or Wet Monday, after the practice of men and boys pouring water on women and girls. However, the tradition isn’t necessarily limited to males pouring water on females – the roles are often reversed. Regional variations of the tradition are also known to occur, and a woman’s married status may protect her from being doused with water. However, it is best to assume that on this day, no one is safe from the Smigus Dyngus tradition!