Swieconka (Polish Easter basket blessing)

Swieconka, the Polish tradition of blessing the Easter food, has always been a big part of Easter in my family. My mother would pack up a bit of the traditional Easter foods into our “holy basket” using beautiful linens embroidered by my grandmother.

We would then take the basket to the church hall on Holy Saturday where everyone would stand around and gossip until the priest turned up to bless the food and sprinkle the baskets with holy water.

Easter morning after church we would then come home to a big breakfast of holy food.

Our Polish church closed about 5 years ago, but thankfully the new church kind of embraced the tradition and a lot of people who never even heard of it started to get baskets blessed. So I still take the basket on Holy Saturday so we can celebrate the ressurection with pork products :smiley:

A lot of the foods are traditional and others are Stuff We Have To Have Or Else Someone Will Be Pissed Off:

Ham and kielbasa (fresh and smoked)
Paska bread, nut and poppyseed roll
Horseradish, salt & pepper
Farmer cheese (white cheese similar to cottage cheese but dryer)
Cirek (cheese made from eggs which I think is disgusting but the rest of my family lurves it)
Dyed Easter eggs
Butter shaped like a lamb. It is traditional in our household to take the first scoop from the rear end, and also for someone to go “BAAAAAA!” as it’s cut.

Some people also put in wine, candy, or fresh fruit, although we never did.

Anyone else here do this? If so, what’s in your basket?

this is done as well in orthodox churches. in the russian tradition the foods are about the same. the pascha bread is very similar to hallah and i love the cheese pascha, that is made with the farmer cheese and egg and put in a planter or cheese mold and drained for days in the 'fridge.

greeks and middle eastern churches will have lamb instead of pork. the paschal breads and cheese are a bit different as well.

the baskets are blessed after liturgy on great and holy saturday (noonish), or after the paschal liturgy sometime barely before dawn sunday itself. and heaven help you if you try to cook on pascha! you will get smitted if not by a bolt of lightening by an older female relative for sure.

in most russian baskets you will find a vodka bottle or 2.

My family does this, too, and it looks like your Easter basket is pretty much the same as ours. I think we also have some slonina (fatback/bacon) in there as well.

One thing, though. What in the heck is cirek? I looked on the Polish wikipedia page and couldn’t find anything on it. Is it a Polish tradition? The only thing I find online about it seems to be one recipe that’s been copied over a hundred times, but no real explanation of the origins of this.

Also, we don’t do Paska. I’m unfamiliar with that, too. We just use regular rye bread to get blessed, and the Easter cake we eat is a babka.

ETA: Is your family perhaps from the Slovak or Ukrainian border areas of Poland or have Slovak or Ukrainian in your family? Looks like the paska and cirek/syrek/hrudka are more well-known in those traditions, although that entire area is a mish-mosh of influences, so who knows.

ETA2: Oh, looking at a picture of the paska, there’s also chalka (challah), which we may have for Easter or Christmas or whatnot.

Yep, there’s some Slovak in the family too. By this point, we use the stuff we do just because that’s how we’ve always done it. [Tevye]Tra-di-TIOOOOONNN!!![/Tevye]

The paska we use is a sweet bread, usually a round loaf that is traditionally decorated with a cross and a braid around the edge to represent the Crown of Thorns. It’s very similar to challah bread in taste.

I’m not sure what the significance of the cirek is, other than eggs=symbol of the ressurection part. I personally find it disgusting but if I didn’t make it my family would put ME in my tomb.

The recipe I use is my grandmother’s, differnt from the Wikipedia one in that it’s sweet. It’s a dozen eggs beaten with a quart of milk in a nonstick pot. Add one teaspoon vanilla and a tablespoon of sugar. Cook until it’s basically a pot full of soft scrambled eggs, strain through cheesecloth, and form into a ball and let it hang until liquid stops dripping out. Chill and you get a big ball of eggy stuff you can slice, cut with cookie cutters, etc.

My family is Slovak and getting the basket blessed is an annual event. In addition to what has already been mentioned, my mom also puts pork roast in the basket.

Cirak is kind of an acquired taste – although, my husband likes it since it is similar to the tamago we get at sushi places.

Our paska is sweet and eggy – kind of like challah. When my father’s mother was still alive, she would hit everyone on the head with the paska and say in Slovak, “Christ is risen,” three times, and you would have to respond, “Indeed He is risen”, in Slovak. (I know how to say it, but don’t have a clue as to how to spell it.) Anyone else ever hear of this?

Oh – and the horseradish is ground and mixed with ground pickled beets. It’s sort of weird, tangy, and hot. Very different from the horseradish sauce you usually find in the grocery store.

Ah, forgot about that–we do the beet horseradish sometimes, too.

On Palm Sunday my grandmother would smack everyone with her bunch of palms and say something in Polish, and you were supposed to say something back, but I always ran away from her and hid :smiley: We didn’t go to her house for breakfast so I don’t know if she konked people with the bread, too.

The horseradish with red beets is my favorite too.

Did you guys do Polish Easter soup as well? AKA white borscht or żur/żurek?There’s a gazillion variations on it, but the base is a soured rye (basically, a very watery sourdough starter) and usually sausages (either smoked or fresh) and potatoes in it. For Easter, we also put hardboiled eggs in it.

A family friend does borscht but he does the red kind. He uses the water he boils his kielbasa in and puts potato in it, but I’m not sure if he uses souring in it.

Huh. I’ve never seen or heard of the red kind. Is that based on beets, I presume? Do you know the name of it by chance?

Yep, it has beets in it along with potato, cabbage, and onion (and probably other stuff). I looked on Wikipedia and there’s about a zillion different varieties of borscht both with and without beets, I can’t quite tell what area his recipe might come from but I sure never knew there were so many different versions of it.

Sounds like a Ukrainian-style borscht to me.