Good morning to everyone. Another Friday has arrived and for many is filled with anticipation for the holiday. I am so looking forward to tomorrow. It is going to be so much fun. I have a day of pirogi making with loved ones. It cannot get more special than that. We will be making them to eat as well...from sauerkraut to strawberry ones. A tradition we had hoped to do at Christmas time...but things happen and so it was changed to making them for Easter. It really doesn't matter when we do it..just being together is more than half the fun.
Well, today's blog is about another Easter tradition. It is the blessing of the food. It is customary ever since I was a child, to prepare the Easter foods on Good Friday and on Holy Saturday. Being of Polish background, we would prepare both smoked and fresh polish sausage. I remember as a child, we would actually make the sausage. My Grandmother would have the meat all prepared and loaded with tons of garlic. She would pull out the grinder and it would be attached to an edge of the kitchen table. She had these balloon looking things called the casings that would get blows up...I thought it would be pretty cool to blow them up...but as a kid, I thought they tasted too salty. Once the casing was opened up it was then placed on the out end of the machine. The meat was placed into the top and I would get to grind it by turning the grinders handle. The meat would enter into the casing and viola...we had polish sausage. Now Grandma never smoked her sausage...the smoke sausage was always purchased and then cooked. We colored eggs, and I have since that day associated the smell of vinegar with that job. I remember all the newspapers spread out on the table and the cups spread out with the colors as well. We would make several dozens so that there were plenty to give away. Then Grandma and I would prepare the batter to make the lamb cakes...no cake mix here...the recipe was the best I have ever had...even till this day. We had two molds, which I still cherish till this day. A large and a small cast iron lamb mold was used. We would butter and flour the one side and make sure to place toothpicks in the ears so the ears would stay on Saturday and not break off. I love making the brown sugar icing that we used to frost the cakes when done. The decorating was the best as we tinted coconut green for the grass and placed jelly beans all around. We always purchased butter in the shape of a lamb as well. There was always a special loaf of rye bread with a purple circle on the top displaying a white cross. There were hot cross buns that we made as well. Now aside from all the cold salads and jello molds, on Saturday morning, just before going to the church to have the foods blessed, Grandma would prepare the ham. Now in my house..the tradition was that you couldn't eat any meat until after 12 noon. It was torture to smell that delicious honey baked ham slowly baking to perfection.
We had this very large basket that a certain amount of all the foods were placed into, along with horseradish and salt and pepper. We covered it with a special Easter cloth and then went to the church hall to have it blessed.
We belonged to St. Stanislaus B & M in Chicago. The basement hall was set up with tables that formed a square. We would all parade in carrying our baskets of Easter foods and place it on the table. We would open up the lids of anything that was closed so that everything would get touched by the holy water that the priest would sprinkle during the blessing. When the blessing of the food was done...then if you had anything else that needed a blessing...which for me usually meant a rosary...we would go to another area with rosaries and candles to have those objects blessed. Then upon leaving there was this huge rain barrel that was filled with water that had been blessed. We would fill our empty jars with some of the water to take home to place into our holy water holders by the door. When I grew up, there was one of these at each end of the house to dip your fingers into to bless yourself upon entering. Seems as though today, the only place you will see this is in a church.
When we arrived home, it was after 1, so we were able to taste test the ham. Oh, it just tasted so good after days of no meat. All the family that couldn't come on Easter to visit Grandma would arrive later on Holy Saturday and the festivities would begin.
I loved that some of those traditions are still honored by us till today. Those memories of childhood are something that no one can ever take away. They are some of the most precious gifts received.
I would love to hear your traditions. Feel free to add them in the comment section. I always find it wonderful to hear about other traditions.