The adventures of a knitting grandmother

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

A Polish Easter

Many, many years ago, children, when I was a child myself, I was living in Detroit with my family and my mostly all-Polish extended family. When I was sixteen, I got my first job in the neighborhood's corner market, a combination Polish bakery and meat market. I worked in the bakery portion of the store. We sold rye and pumpernickle breads, doughnuts and all sorts of cakes and pastries. At Easter, and only at Easter, the bakery would make round loaves of rye and pumpernickle breads. Customers would be lined up out the door to buy them. And there were never enough. My mother was very happy that I was working there, because I could get the family's round loaves as soon as they came off the truck.

Nowadays we bake our own Easter bread, from a Slovak recipe coming from Joe's family. It is very sweet and rich with eggs, milk and butter. This year it was Michael's turn to bake it, and he did an excellent job of it.

The meat market side of the store sold lunchmeats, sausages, and other assorted items. At Easter, they sold butter lambs like this one, made of fresh butter with peppercorns for the eyes and nose. I would get a couple of those also for us. Nowadays, I have my own butter lamb mold and make one each Easter.

The meat market also would sell fresh Polish sausage, but we never bought that. My maternal grandparents made their own each year, filled with ground pork and garlic. Eventually Joe and I learned to make our own sausage, and still make it for Easter when time permits. (Alas, not this year.) Then we would color Easter Eggs, of course, and then would come one of the most memorable Easter moments. Every Saturday before Easter, all the Polish people in the neighborhood would take their Easter baskets to church to be blessed. The people would come to the church during the day and every fifteen minutes or so, the priest would come out and bless all the baskets that were there. My mother had a special basket just for the Easter blessing. She would pack in the round loaves of bread, the hard-boiled eggs, the fresh sausage, the butter lambs, the little jar of horseradish and even the little salt and pepper shakers -- all the foods that would be eaten on Easter morning. Then we would go to the church. We would sit in a pew and set the basket in the center aisle next to us. So many others would be there with their baskets, as well, and the amazing aroma of fresh garlic, sausage and horseradish would permeate the big church. To this day I can still recall the tantalizing smell.

I haven't been to a church that blesses Easter baskets for at least thirty years. Do any churches even do this anymore?

Since the Sockapaloooza socks are now finished, I needed to get going on some sock yarn out of the stash for the Sock Yarn Addict's Club. Since I have been knitting with purple already, and since the yard in back is loaded with purple iris, I couldn't resist the two hanks of KnitPicks Sock Memories in the Prairie Spring colorway. So I got out my Susan Bates Size 0's and cast on last night for -- look, Dipsy D! --



Blogger Jamie said...

I loved hearing about your Polish easter traditions. My husband's family is German and Slovak and I am always looking for ways to help celebrate their heritage. I have tried my hand at some traditional breads (that I can't remember the name of right now) and some other traditional foods. I have never made the butter lamb, but I think it is precious! Hope your Easter was blessed!

9:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My sister-in-law is Polish, so I'm always interested in reading about Polish traditions. This blog described a pretty close approximation of what you describe.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Dipsy said...

Wow, Jaywalkers! I'm still just talking about them, but you're actually DOING them! They already look great, such beautiful colors - can't wait to see more of it and hey, perhaps I'll get round to cast on mine too? ;)
I loved reading through your memories of working at the bakery - gosh, I wouldn't have been able to work there, I would have eaten all the bread and pastries around and gained an immense lot of weight! All this sounds so very yummy indeed!

8:46 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Ahh I love these last few posts! Polish Easter - the description of the store is so great - I grew up in a rather non-Polish area of Michigan but later my parents moved down to Brooklyn and WOW the interesting foods, etc, it was great. Love the pretty daughters and photos of the shrine. You take really great photos Pat! :)

2:52 PM  

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