At 10.00am on Holy Saturday, our church was packed as members of our Polish community brought baskets packed with Easter Foods to be blessed.
Baskets containing a sampling of Easter foods are brought to church to be blessed on Holy Saturday. The basket is traditionally lined with a white linen or lace napkin and decorated with sprigs of boxwood (bukszpan), the typical Easter evergreen. Families take special pride in preparing a decorative and tasteful basket with crisp linens, occasionally embroidered for the occasion, and boxwood and ribbon woven through the handle. Observing the creativity of other parishioners is one of the special joys of the event.
The Blessing of the Food is, however, a festive occasion. The three-part blessing prayers specifically address the various contents of the baskets, with special prayers for the meats, eggs, cakes and breads. The priest or deacon then sprinkles the individual baskets with holy water.
The foods in the baskets have a symbolic meaning:
eggs – symbolise life and Christ’s resurrection
bread – symbolic of Jesus
lamb – represents Christ
salt – represents purification
horseradish – symbolic of the bitter sacrifice of Christ
ham – symbolic of great joy and abundance.
The food blessed in the church remains untouched according to local traditions until either Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning.