25 March 2013

Easter Sunday

A vast majority of Polish peoples are members of the Catholic faith.  Some who originally lived in the German Partition of Poland were encouraged to follow teachings of the Lutheran religion.  There were also many members of the Jewish faith.

With the typical Polish families, Easter Sunday began with a High Mass, a celebration of the Resurrection.  After Mass the family shares Swieconka, foods Blessed on Saturday.  

In my family my mom would slice the ham and Polish sausage and place them in a pan to fry in a light amount of butter, basically just to heat them.  While they were heating she would remove the shells from the eggs  and slice the eggs.  Later she would crumble the shells and bury them in the plants (the shells had also been blessed so they could not be thrown out but in the potted plants the would add nourishment to the soil).  When the ham and sausage were heated they would be moved to the side of the pan and the egg slices would be added to fry a bit and heat.  Frying of boiled eggs may sound strange but on Easter Sunday they were delicious.  The eggs, ham and sausage would be served along with the rye bread, butter lamb, horseradish and other items which had been blessed.
In some households the water in which the Polish sausage was cooked on Saturday was used to make a white borscht.  The following recipes was shared with me by my Aunt Emily Dul Szostek.  The recipes was given to her by her mother, Catherine Zuba Dul.  Both women served this to their families on Easter.

Easter Borscz

½ cup flour
1 1/4 cup milk
¼ cup vinegar (or to taste)
Smoked Polish Sausage – cooked
5 to 6 eggs – hard boiled
Touch of horseradish
Tiny crisp pieces of bacon - optional

In a small bowl mix together flour and ¾ cup milk (mixture should be fluid, not paste).  Pour ½ gallon (8 cups) of water into a large pot.  Bring to a boil and immediately add the remaining ½ cup milk.  Stir.  Pour in flour/milk mixture and stir.  Simmer over a lowered flame for a few minutes (mixture may rise). 

Remove from flame. Add bacon pieces, if desired.  Serve pieces of sausage and eggs in the soup bowls along with the borscz.  Horseradish can be added as an optional seasoning.

 Others just added sour cream, flour and horseradish to this water and heated to make this soup which is shared along with the rest of the items from the basket.  Many would added their kielbasa and eggs to the borscht.  
In Poland, husbands and wives share their decorated eggs with each other.  Many children play a game called “wybitki”.  Two children each take an egg in their right hand and hit one against the other.  Whoever’s egg does not break wins the other child’s egg.

In my maternal side of the family it was traditional to celebrate both Easter and my Grandma, Mary Inda Szostek's, birthday together.  She was born on 30 Mar 1894 so her children, Edward Szostek, Phyllis Szostk Wegrzyn, Loretta Szostek Kolodzinski and Helen Szostek Huffman, decided it was better to all get together on Easter to celebrate no matter which date Easter fell on.  After my Grandpa, Stanley Szostek, died in 1955, we normally got together at whichever sibling my Grandma was living with at the time.  Many times this was at the Wegrzyns, home of the my Aunt Phyllis and her family.

After visiting for a while we would sit down for a huge Easter dinner!  This normally started out with homemade chicken noodle soup and continued with ham, chicken, mashed potatoes and gray and many vegetables.  Dinner was finished off with a birthday cake and other desserts.  After dinner the men would get together for pinochle while the women would clear the tables and head to the kitchen to wash and dry the dishes.  Both of these were great times to get together and share stories and great conversation. 

Just wait until you hear about Easter Monday!

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