A Polish Easter workshop in your area?
An educational suggestion By Robert Strybel, Polish/Polonian Affairs Writer
Many Americans feel a little more tied to their ethnic roots at weddings, Christmas and Easter, and Polonians are no exception. At this time of year, the Pol-Am community displays heightened interest in pisanki, the Holy Saturday food-blessing, Polish-style sausage, horseradish, babkas and mazurka, the Easter Monday drenching custom (śmigus-dyngus) and other seasonal lore, artifacts and traditions. One way to not only tap into the existing interest but stimulate additional fascination would be to offer a Polish Easter workshop. It could be held at your local Polonian clubrooms, parish, school, public library, community center or even in a private home. Perhaps a local college or university might agree to include such a professionally organized class in its for-credit and/or self-enrichment course offerings.
The purpose of such a workshop would be to expose participants to the wealth of our Polish Easter heritage − the symbols, traditions, customs, crafts and delicacies. If your resources are limited, this could be confined to passive exposure − lecturing about the customs, displaying the artifacts, showing slides or photos and providing printed hand-outs and bibliographies of existing literature in this area.
If the proper facilities and manpower are available, an upgraded version of the Polish Easter workshop might be attempted. A skilled folk artist or two could demonstrate the individual crafts and then allow participants to try their hand at them. A club kitchen, home-economics room or even a home kitchen could be the scene of hands-on cooking lessons. Here are some specific areas such a workshop could cover:
GENERAL INTRODUCTION: A lecture and/or audio-visual presentation of Polish Easter traditions, their origin and significance. Artifacts such as pisanki and other style Polish Easter eggs, Easter palms, baskets, lamb molds, Dyngus Day squirters, etc. could be displayed and passed around for inspection by participants.
CUSTOMS: Discussion and, wherever possible, physical and/or audio-visual demonstration of such customs as the Palm Sunday procession, hanging/burning Judas, Holy Thursday clappers, Good Friday Adoration, Holy Saturday food-blessing, Easter morning procession, Easter breakfast/brunch, Easter Monday drenching (śmigus-dyngus), post-Easter house-to-house trick-or-treating, etc.
FOLKCRAFTS: The preparation of Easter palms, Easter eggs, wycinanki (paper cut-outs), carved wooden butter-lamb molds; carving Easter-related religious and folk figures; creating Easter Lambs from wood, fleece, dough, etc.; preparing the Easter basket and święconka table.
FOOD: Traditional Easter soups, eggs dishes, meat dishes including roasts, hams, cold cuts, pâté and home-made kiełbasa; horseradish, ćwikła, Easter salads and relishes; Easter lambs made of butter, sugar and cake dough; babka, placek, chałka, sernik, mazurek, sękacz, kołacz, pascha, etc..
EASTER HYMNS: Listening to and learning to sing and play the best-loved Polish Easter hymns such as: “Wesoły nam dzień dziś nastał”, “”Zwycięzca śmierci”, “Chrystus zmartwychwstan jest”, “Otrzyjcie już łzy płaczący”, “Nie zna śmierci Pan żywota”, etc.
EASTER GAMES: Learning about the best-known Polish Easter games are the egg-roll race and the egg-tap contest as well as contests for the best Easter palm, Easter egg, wycinanka (paper cut-out), seasonal wood carving, Easter-themed poster or essay.
ORGANIZING POLONIAN EVENTS: Learning how to incorporate the above knowledge into organized Polish-American events including Polish Easter fairs, craft circles, concerts of Easter music Dyngus Day festivities and święconka parties.