Today is Holy Saturday, which brings back a lot of childhood memories. But one of the most vivid; as well as one of the fondest remains that of the Blessing of the Food; or the Święconka, as it was known to the Polish community.
My mom would place a small card table in a corner of the living room. On it would be the Easter ham, kielbasa, Easter Eggs, red horeseradish, fresh babka (Polish bread that could have cheese and raisins in it) and all kinds of Easter food. Also included were two sticks of butter where one was cut in half and joined with the other to form a Cross. Inserted were five cloves to represent the 5 wounds of Jesus. There was also always a Lamb cake. This was a vanilla cake that was baked in a metal form pan that was shaped like a lamb. It was covered with white icing and flaked coconut for "wool". The Lamb's nose was a small piece of Maraschino cherry. And of course, there was always a chocolate rabbit or two placed somewhere on the table.
At some point during the morning, a priest from our parish would come visit the house with an altar boy or two in tow. He would sprinkle the food with Holy Water and pronounce an Easter blessing upon it. He would stay for a few minutes to chat with my mom while my sister and I did our best to behave and stay out of trouble for a few moments.
This tradition is still carried out today here in the NorthEast US, even in parishes that are not Polish ethnic parishes, such as Sacred Heart church in South Plainfield, which is my home parish. There is a twist now - since there are not enough priests to visit the homes of all the parishioners, we are invited to being our baskets of Easter food to the Church to be blessed. The Blessing is the same, but I feel badly for the folks who won't have as quite a warm memory to hold for the future.
72 de Larry W2LJ
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