USC Digital Folklore Archives / Posts Tagged ‘easter’
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Polish Easter Basket Blessing

Nationality: Polish

Primary Language: English

Other Language(s): Polish

Age: 28

Residence: New York City, USA

Performance Date: April 15, 2017 (Skype)

 

Christopher is a 28 year old man, born and raised in Warsaw, Poland and who emigrated with his family to the United States when he was 8 years old.  He is a College Graduate with a degree in Political Science. He is currently employed as a doorman in an apartment building in Queens, New York.

 

Interviewer: Good Afternoon. Does today being Holy Saturday bring back any memories of how you celebrated Easter in Poland?

 

Informant: So on Holy Saturday we would wake up very early and we would make um an Easter Basket with the family. Usually the youngest in the family will make the basket and in the basket you would put in a boiled egg, a piece of bread so ah a piece of Kielbasa little items like that. And that Saturday Morning, you and the family would head to Church and the Easter Basket would be blessed by a Priest. You would not be allowed to eat meat until that Easter Basket is blessed. Once the basket is blessed the whole family can enjoy meat on that Saturday. And that is the Polish Tradition of Easter on Holly Saturday.

 

Interviewer: Do you have any special remembrances when you celebrated in Poland as a young child then when you immigrated to the United States?

 

Informant: Oh my best memory is just how people would dress up and take the holiday very seriously. It was a very big, big holiday in Poland growing up.

 

Interviewer: Were there any changes when you got to the United States and the way the Polish Community celebrated Easter as opposed to in Poland?

 

Informant: Well in Poland they would held a big mass and this would take two hours to do. Everyone would get together with the Easter Eggs and baskets and getting blessed.  Over here in America I noticed it is a quick five minute process. You enter the church, you see the priest, then you are right out the door.

 

Interviewer: Now, as you live in America and people are less devoted to faith then in Poland, does the holiday take on another significance beyond religious?

 

Informant: For me personally this is ah about family, it keeps the family together. This tradition keeps the family together. It is about tradition.  Without tradition we start to lose family. As I said, we all get together for dinner, we see each so it is just a great way to catch up with family you haven’t seen in a quite a while.

 

Thoughts about the piece:  

Polish immigrants that want to continue or revive this tradition of “swieconka” in the US, can find a list of church services and traditional basket ingredients on sites like this: http://www.cleveland.com/cooking/index.ssf/2014/04/easter_basket_blessings_of_foo.html Symbolism of basket ingredients is explained here; http://luzdelmes.blogspot.com/2016/03/a-traditional-polish-easter-basket.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Customs
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

From Ash Wednesday to Easter Colombian rituals

Another document collected from my great Aunt Nora about Holiday rituals, is what happens from Ash Wednesday to Saturday before Easter. Every Friday is observed by not eating any meat (beef, pork, chicken) only eggs and seafood can be consumed on also Good Friday and Virgin Saturday (day before Easter) are considered especially sacred. On Easter there is usually a feast with all the meats including those foods that were giving up for Lent. During Lent, a favorite food like chocolate is given up as an act of sacrifice to give remembrance to Jesus’s 40 days fast in the desert before the crucifixion. Any pagan ritual like coloring eggs, going on an easter egg hunts, making Easter baskets for the kids is also followed along side the holiday/religious rituals as long as they do not conflict, like eating a chocolate bunny before Easter would be a bad thing if chocolate is what you gave up on lent but on Easter, perfectly ok.

Analysis: I was shocked how many of my USC fellow classmates actually gave up their favorite food for Lent.  I find it amusing that no matter how religious my family member claim to be, they have no problem observing pagan ritual because they interpret it as American Holiday rituals not pagan. Although, everyone seemed confused why rabbits lays eggs in America? I tried to explain, but gave up quickly because food came out.

Holidays

Easter Tradition

Informant:

Pat is a junior chemical engineering major from Southern California.

Piece:

Alright so for easter my family, as opposed to celebrating the religious side of it, just focuses on coming together as a family and like bonding with each other. And we all go to upstate New York where my grandparents live and have like this massive four hour feast. And we have all these different courses and food and half way through there is a break to go change to the next pant size up and then come back and eat more. It’s a lot of fun every year.

Collector’s thoughts:

For the informant, Easter is more about family than it is a religious holiday. Rather than celebrate the religious aspect, Easter is used as a justification to gather as an entire family and share a meal with each other.

Game

Tucanje jaja (Cracking eggs)

Tucanje jaja (Cracking eggs)

Informant: SK is my mom. She was born and raised in New York, but moved to Croatia in 2002 and has been living there ever since.

 

What’s your favorite thing to do on Easter?

 

“Play cracking eggs.”

 

What’s that?

 

“It’s a game my family plays every Easter.”

 

How do you play it?

 

“Ok, so you need two players, each player has an egg and you hit the egg with the other egg. The egg that’s the least damaged is the winner. The winner as a prize gets to eat the egg.”

 

This game is a traditional Easter game that’s appropriate for all generations, and it’s interesting how from simple things like eggs a family cam make up a game that will bring the family even closer. Having it played on a holiday like Easter makes it even better because the whole family is there.

general
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Shrove Tuesday

Main Piece: “Shrove Tuesday is…uh…the last day before Lent. Lent…uh…precedes Easter. Lent lasts about I think a month and during Lent one does not eat as much. So one is more…um…frugal about eating. So the last day before Lent is called Shrove Tuesday and on that day, people eat a lot of pancakes. And the pancakes are tossed in a pan and people like to see how high they can toss them. They usually have lemon on them…squeezed lemon…they’re very nice. And that is the only time of the year that we ate pancakes, just that one day.”

Background: The informant, who grew up in the English countryside, began celebrating Shrove Tuesday as early as he can remember, but stopped around age 16, as the tradition was dying out. He celebrated this holiday at home with family. He notes that eating pancakes was the most enjoyable part of Shrove Tuesday. When asked about the name of the holiday, the informant said “shrove” comes from “shrive” which means to “absolve,” and in terms of this holiday, he thinks it means absolving one’s sins. However, the informant says he and his family did not celebrate Shrove Tuesday in that way.

Performance Context: We spoke over the phone.

My Thoughts: The informant understands Shrove Tuesday as a dying tradition. It seems to have already taken on another form when the informant was celebrating the holiday. As the informant noted, the name “Shrove Tuesday” didn’t accurately describe the holiday he celebrated. Most interesting and special to the informant was the pancake meal, since it was a rare meal to have. As the tradition began to be less celebrated by the informant, the foodways were the only particularly noteworthy component of the holiday. I think of the ways “Shrove Tuesday” in England parallels “Fat Tuesday” in the U.S., where the same notions of celebratory eating are present before the culmination of Lent.

Customs
Foodways
Holidays
Material
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Ka’ik

“Ok so some of our um, uh traditions at Easter time in the Karam family where I grew up, and the Karam family is of uh, actually Syrian descent, and our family was Marinite Catholic and so we um followed Christian holidays and traditions. Ok so, a holiday tradition is to make a sweet bread called “ka’ik”(pronounced ka-yak) at Easter time, and my mother in law, used to always make it, and its like a dense biscuit, almost like a scone, and it has anise in it, which is sort of like the same flavor that licorice comes from, and she had a mold she would press it in before she baked it and they were kind of circular shape with an imprinted design on top, and then when they came out of the oven, she would pour just like a sugar water over it, I don’t think it had rosewater in it like the baklava, and uh so anyway we always had those at Easter time.”

Informant: The informant is a Catholic mother of five, of Syrian descent. She is from Kinder, Louisiana, where she grew up in a large family.

Analysis:

The context of this traditional food exemplifies the Catholic practices of this family that is of Syrian/Lebanese descent. Because they follow the Catholic Church, they celebrate the traditional Christian holidays. Cooking for these holidays is an important aspect of the performance of folklore, because most of the recipes are passed down from through the women of the households. The informant learned of this recipe through cooking with her mother-in law, demonstrating the close and important familial ties of this culture.

The significance of this dish is that it comes from Syrian/Lebanese styles of cooking, which is exemplified through the use of anise in the recipe. Anise can be found in the Mediterranean region, and is a spice commonly used in dishes that are derived from this region. This exhibits how baking, cooking, and sharing recipes with family members is an integral part of sharing culture. As the informant also stated that she felt it was her duty to teach her children how to cook the family recipes in order to continue the customs of her traditional culture, it is apparent that recipes like this carry a special significance.

I agree that this significance is the importance of passing down traditional practices through the kitchen as a way of extenuating one’s culture. I also think it is interesting how the women are the ones baking and cooking together. I believe that this comes from the Catholic/Christian influence in the family. Because the Abrahamic tradition is patrilineal, it is apparent that the women have traditionally been the ones in the home doing the cooking for many generations. This continues to be the case as recipes are handed down from matriarch to matriarch.

 

 

 

Childhood
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Easter Treasure Hunt

The informant is a new professional in post-secondary administration. He lives in New Zealand, but he is originally from Apple Valley, California and went to university at the University of California, Irvine, where he was involved in student affairs and studied computer science. His background is Italian and Polish, and he has 3 older siblings.

This piece relates to an Easter tradition he performs with his family, and, more recently, his flatmates.

“Well, it’s Easter today, so that’s kind of on my mind. And so for Easter, what me and my family do is… rather than doing, like, a normal Easter egg hunt where you just go outside and hide a bunch of Easter eggs and go and just try to find them, like haphazardly and they’re all in random places, we do kind of a scavenger hunt. Or no, not a scavenger hunt, like a… map and clues, in a way? So you get the first clue and then that gives you another clue and that gives you another clue, and at the end there’s a basket with the Easter chocolate and the Easter bunny and all that.

Um, and so we’ve done that, ever since I can remember with me and my brother and sisters. To my best memory, we just kind of—my brother and sisters both really like those kinds of clues, so they just did it one year for one of us, and it just kind of became a tradition. But I don’t know, my parents never did it, it was just the siblings. My parents didn’t give us clues and we didn’t give them clues. Like my parents gave us the baskets to put at the end of it, eventually, but they didn’t participate. So I think that it’s my brother and sisters that came up with it. I don’t know where they got it from, or if it was their idea.”

Are you continuing with this tradition now that you’re living away from your family?

“I’m trying to continue it, cause I really liked it and it’s like, kind of my Easter thing now, like, whenever I think of those types of clues I think of Easter. And, like, I like those those types of puzzles, like things that you need to solve. It’s kind of continued in my life outside of the holiday but I associate that with Easter. Like for example, today my flatmate gave me an Easter egg hunt, but it wasn’t the kind of hunt that I’m used to in that sense, like it was just the hide it everywhere and go get it, and that kind of triggered a bunch of memories for all the different hunts I did with my family, and I remembered that I want to do it again and bring that tradition and continue that tradition on.”

Analysis:

This tradition interests me for a couple of reasons. It contains both elements of the Easter egg hunt with chocolate prizes, including eggs and the symbolic Easter bunny, and a kind of riddling competition. The informant showed me some pictures of clues that were used over the years, and they range from plays on words to codes that need to be cracked to logic puzzles. Each clue, like a traditional riddle, had the answer hidden somewhere in the question, although as they were in text form rather than shared orally, the answers were often embedded in the text itself.

It’s also interesting that the parents were not involved in this tradition, as it is often parents that hide the eggs for children in Easter egg hunts. It reflects the general trend in the United States that riddles and riddling games are primarily thought of as activities for children, as the children wrote the clues for one another and the parents provided only the prize at the end. However, the informant is attempting to continue this tradition with his flatmates in New Zealand, who are all adults.

Childhood
Game
general
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Easter Egg Hunting with Siblings

M is a 20-year-old black female who is currently double majoring in NGO’s and Social Change and Communications at the University of Southern California. M grew up in Boston, MA but currently resides in Los Angeles, CA. M primarily speaks English, but she is also fluent in Spanish.

Me: Does your family have any fun holiday traditions?

M: Um. We are aggressive when it comes to Easter baskets. My mom is really happy that my brother aren’t home for Easter anymore because, I think she though she could like stop when I like reached 16, and she had the Easter baskets like out on the table, like you know, like we always do the hunt and then go to church, but she left them out on the table and we came downstairs and we were very upset and we told her she had to hide them, so she did, unfortunately very aggressively. And we didn’t even find them before church, so we had to go, we still didn’t have our baskets, and then it took us another hour and a half to find them when we got home. She was really annoyed. she was like, you’re ll adults you don’t need these, and my sister was…my sister to be fair was only 12, so she was like I am not an adult at all, like I want mine hidden. Then when my mom hid hers, my brother was like I’m only 14 and she was like ok. Then I was like, you can’t hide theirs and not mine. And then that’s when she was like, alright, these bitches… Yeah.

M talks about an annual family tradition of her mom hiding their Easter baskets and candy for her and her two siblings. Their mom thought that when they reached a certain age, that she could stop hiding the eggs, but the children all wanted to keep the tradition going. There was a sense of maturing and distancing from old childhood memories and games that the kids did not yet want to let go of, and so they continued the tradition until they moved out of the house. Not only was the Easter basket hunt fun for the kids, and kept their childhood spirit alive, but it was more time spent with siblings bonding and working together to find their baskets. They will likely carry on the tradition when they have children as it meant so much to them growing up.

Childhood
Festival
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Easter Egg Hunt

My informant for this piece is my aunt, who performed the easter egg hunt when she came over for Easter. During my childhood, my family used to hold easter egg hunts, although we have since stopped the practice. This easter however, she made an attempt to resume this tradition. 

Informant/Description of event:

During my childood, my family would hide plastic easter eggs in the backyard and I would attempt to find them. However, as my sister and I grew up, we no longer practiced this tradition. I remember that usually my parents would place coins or candy in the eggs. Sometimes there were special eggs that would have larger amounts of money or maybe a few more candy.

This year, my Aunt decided to attempt to revive this tradition by staging an Easter Egg hunt for us. She hid some plastic eggs in our living room, and told us to attempt to look for them.  These eggs also had some coins in them, as well as small candies. When we had found the eggs, she hid them again, although this time it was easier for us to find them due to us knowing the hiding spaces. My aunt also attempted variation in this ritual by hiding items such as small boxes during the easter egg hunt which were filled similarly to the eggs.

My Analysis:

I believe that the context of this was an attempt to revive an old family tradition that my family no longer practiced now that we had grown out of it. My takeaway is that this easter egg hunt also attempted to evoke feelings of closeness and togetherness that evolved out of previous iterations of this familial tradition.As a childhood ritual it did bring back memories of my childhood, and I guess reminded me of this ritual that I no longer do, and probably will not repeat next year.

Earth cycle
Festival
Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Easter Tradition in Hungary

Background about Informant:

Anna is a 22-year-old exchange student from Hungary, studying business at USC. She was born and raised in Budapest and has knowledge of many facts and traditions of Hungary.

 General Description from Informant:

“We have a strange Easter tradition when boys have to pour water/perfume on girls – they do it with a bucket of water on the countryside but in cities people usually spray perfume. I personally always hated this tradition. Especially because by the end of the day, girls usually smell like a perfume store – never wash your hair the day before! And when I was around 6 my best friend’s friend who came to water her poured a whole bottle of perfume into my face by accident and it all went into my eyes. It was as pleasant as you can imagine.

The guys have to say or learn or write a rhyme “I went to this forest and found this flower, can I water this flower?” and the girl is the flower. And then they spray perfume or water on you.

Either the rhymes are sexual for teenage guys or kind of cute/dumb for non-teenagers. And it’s really cute when little boys remember the rhymes.”

Follow-up Questions:

  • Where/who did you learn it from?
    • “My parents when I was a kid, we always do this.”
  • What does it mean to you?
    • “I don’t like it because of the perfume. But it’s normal because it’s part of the Easter tradition. I’m fine when it
  • Why do males throw water on females and not vice versa?
    • “In the countryside, guys did everything. Also part of guys meeting girls and meeting your wife, and of course the girl is the flower and not the guy. How else would they meet the girls otherwise?”
  • What do you think this festival symbolizes?
    • “Something about fertility but I don’t know. But maybe it’s just a nice thing too.”
  • Who are the participants?
    • “Guys of all ages – even the grandfathers. And women of all ages too.”

 Analysis from Collector:

I think this Easter Tradition found in Hungary is in line with many other Spring/Easter festivals found around the world. Spring festivals usually revolve around new life, reproduction, and fertility. In the Hungarian Easter tradition the woman represents the flower and the guys represent the fertilizing or stimulant. The flower represents virginity and fertility, while the watering represents the fertilizing of a flower and stimulating growth. Simply, it represents sexual intercourse between men and women for reproductive purposes.

The fact that the grandfathers and older women take part in the tradition seems a little strange, as fertility is usually centered on a younger generation. This part of the tradition may have changed with the times for everyone to participate and have fun. However, I believe the tradition started in the countryside as a way for men and women to meet each other and ultimately lead to reproduction.

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