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The Huntsville Languages and Cultures Exchange Group Message Board General Discussions › Święconka (Blessing of the Easter Baskets)

Święconka (Blessing of the Easter Baskets)

Jim Z.
Huntsville, AL
Post #: 2
Wanted to share my press release............Zee


Holy Saturday, 30 March 2013
Noon – 2:00 p.m.
Good Shepherd Catholic Church—Parking Lot (Weather Permitting)
13550 Chaney Thompson Road, SE @ Hobbs Road, SE
Huntsville, AL 35803
• Info: Ed Morfenski; (256) 883-8245 or Carl Woida; (256) 653-4450;

It’s hard, nearly impossible to find Eastern European cultural events in general—and Polish cultural events in particular—in the “Heart of Dixie,” or almost anywhere in the Southeast, but the Rocket City is blessed in that respect. In Madison County, Święconka will be formally observed this year on Saturday, 30 March at the Church of the Good Shepherd in southeast Huntsville. The event, under the auspices of Father Louis Giardano, starts at noon, so participants may wish to arrive a little early.

Even in the U.S., the centuries-old custom of Święconka, or “The Blessing of the Easter Baskets,” remains one of the most enduring and beloved traditions of both Poland and Polonia (Americans of Polish ancestry), taking place on Holy Saturday, or “Easter Eve.” Poles, by a large margin, observe the Roman Catholic faith and thus its Easter calendar, and this ceremony foreshadows the blessed meal on the following Sunday, putting an end to the Lenten fast.

Fare common to the Easter table and thus included in the baskets may include: Kielbasa and Ham (Szynka); Smoked Bacon, or Slonina; Babka (a round loaf of bread marked with a cross or fish) or other assorted Breads/Cakes; Eggs (both shelled and decorated, the latter known as Pisanki); a Paschal Lamb, Cross, or other symbol made of butter, sugar, cake, or even inedible materials such as plaster or plastic; Cheese; Horseradish (with grated red Beets and a little sugar, known as Chrzan); Salt; Vinegar; Oil; a candle; and sprigs of new spring or evergreen growth (e.g. boxwood, parsley, myrtle, periwinkle).

Typically, the baskets are festively decorated with ribbons and flowers, especially pussy willows, and lined with mom’s best linen or lace napkins. Baskets may be of wicker, though rural Poles may utilize anything from a wooden bowl to a dresser drawer. In some cases, families may include a bottle of Wine or other spirits, or vegetables and fruit. Most of the traditional items included are symbolic in some way; for instance, the horseradish represents the bitter sacrifice of Christ, while the candle represents Jesus, the “Light of the World.”

As for the Pisanki, seen as symbols of rebirth, their design and creation have bloomed over the years into a veritable art form, boasting many types and techniques employed by Polish, Ukrainian, Russian, Slovak, and other Eastern European craftsmen. One can also find butter molds for those industrious enough to make the aforementioned lambs at home.

Good Shepherd, located at 13550 Chaney Thompson Road, SE (at Hobbs Road, SE), is also the weekly meeting place for Huntsville’s Polish Language-Culture-History Club. Get more information on Święconka AND the club at (256) 883-8245, (256) 653-4450, or

As Poloniahsv puts it: “…regardless of the details, the main thing is that this beautiful custom has survived around the globe, wherever Polish people are found…and it has actually captivated many non-Poles who have been exposed to it.”

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