Bideford Catholic Churches

Święconka - Blessing of the Easter Baskets


The blessing of the Easter baskets

Easter Saturday

Święconka (sh-vee-en-soon-kah) is a long-lasting and beloved Eastern European tradition.  Baskets containing a sample of typical Easter foods are brought to the church to be blessed on Holy Saturday.  Each basket is traditionally lined with a white linen or lace napkin and decorated with sprigs of boxwood (bukszpan - the Easter evergreen).  Polish people take special pride in preparing a decorative and tasteful basket with crisp linens, often embroidered for the occasion, with ribbons woven through the handle.

Each basket typically contains:-

Masło - Butter : This is often shaped into a lamb (Baranek Wielkanocny), reminding us of the goodness of Christ that we should have toward all things.
- Easter Bread: A round rye loaf topped with a cross, symbolic of Jesus, the Bread of Life.

- Horseradish : Symbolic of the Passion of Christ still in our minds, but sweetened with some sugar because of the Resurrection.
Jajka - Eggs and Pisanki: (decorated eggs) Indicate new life and Christ's Resurrection from the Tomb.
Kielbasa - Sausage: A spicy sausage of pork products, indicative of God's favour and generosity.
Szynka - Ham: Symbolic of great joy and abundance. (In addition to the large ham cooked for the Easter Meal, often a special small ham, called Szynka Wielkanocna) is purchased specially for Swieconka basket.)
Słonina - Smoked Bacon: A symbol of the over abundance of God's mercy and generosity.
Sól - Salt: So necessary an element in our physical life, that Jesus used its symbolism: "You are the salt of the earth."
Twaróg - Hard Curd cheese; Shaped into a ball, it is the symbol of the moderation Christians should have.

When the Priest arrives for the blessing, the coverings are removed from the baskets.  Special blessings, for each of the food groups are used.  Here is the prayer for the Blessing of the Meats and Sausages:-

"Baranku Boży, który zwyciężyłeś zło i obmyłeś świat z grzechów, pobłogosław † to mięso, wędliny i wszelkie pokarmy, które będziemy jedli na pamiątkę Baranka paschalnego i świątecznych potraw, które Ty spożyłeś z Apostołami na Ostatniej Wieczerzy. Pobłogosław także † naszą sól, aby chroniła nas od zepsucia. Amen."

This blessing addresses the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world:-

"Lamb of God, who has conquered evil and cleansed the world of sin, bless this meat and sausage and all this festive fare we will consume in memory of the Paschal Lamb and the food of which you partook with your Apostles at the Last Supper. and bless the salt, to protect us from temptation and evil "

(Click here for Photos of the 2018 blessing, at The Sacred Heart)