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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Easter Customs & A Polish Heart by Stephanie Burkhart


My story, A Polish Heart, takes place in Poland. When Rebecca J. Vickery put out a call for stories for the 2011 Spring/Easter Anthology, I drew inspiration from my own Easter traditions which had strong Polish roots.

Growing up Polish in rural New Hampshire, I didn't appreciate the customs and traditions I was exposed to as much as I do now. Easter was always fun. There was always Easter mass at my grandmother's church and the church was filled with lilies. I called my grandmother "Bopie" short for the Polish word for grandmother, "Bopshie." She had prepared a feast. There were pierogi, stuffed cabbage, lamb, ham, eggs (lots of eggs!!) and fresh homemade baked bread. After we stuffed ourselves, we always went "up the hill" to visit the twins, Johnny and Stanley who always played polkas. It was so much fun, the laughing, the singing, and the dancing.

Easter was about family. It was about celebrating the risen Lord with family. My Bopie took great pride in making and cooking most of the Easter meal.

I wanted to write a story for the anthology, so I drew on these memories and began researching what Easter was like in Poland. I discovered there were some customs unique to Poland which I wove into the fabric of the story.

The first one was the Easter basket. The basket was filled with food that the Priest would bless on Holy Saturday. Items included eggs, bread, cakes, salt, sausages, ham, and lamb. Each item had a meaning. Lamb, for example represented Christ. Eggs symbolized life and Christ's resurrection. The family would take the basket to their church to be blessed. Then the food would be used to prepare the Easter meals on Sunday.

Another custom was to gather pussy willow and put them in the basket to be blessed. The pussy willow would be passed out during Easter breakfast and everyone at the table would make a wish on their pussy willow. In some places it might symbolize good luck.




On the Monday after Easter boys around the neighborhood would sprinkle water on the girls. One theory of this custom is pagan as the water is seen as a spring symbol of cleansing and purification. The following Tuesday the girls get even. Another theory is that the action represents the sacrament of baptism after Christ is risen.

In "A Polish Heart," Sofia takes Darrin shopping for her family's Easter basket. Sofia's family and their heartwarming traditions resonate deeply with Darrin. Will he go back to America or decide to stay in Poland.

BLURB:
Can Sofia's faith give Darrin his heart back?


Reviews:
5 Stars, Joy Cagil, Amazon Reader
A satisfying ending.

5 Stars, Vikki McCombie, Amazon Reader
This is an excellent read.

5 Stars, Maggie Toussaint, Amazon Reader
A refreshing sweet romance.


5 Stars, Tara Manderino, Amazon Reader
A totally enjoyable read.

YOU TUBE VIDEO:



A Polish Heart is available through Amazon Prime at:
BUY LINK: http://amzn.com/B007AS29AO

Question: What's your Easter like? Are there any traditions or customs you'd like to share with us?

Author Bio: Wanting a great adventure, Stephanie Burkhart joined the US Army when she was 18 and spent 7 years overseas in Germany. She's visited several European countries, including a visit to Poland in 1997. Nowadays she works as a 911 dispatcher for LAPD. She writes paranoramal, steampunk, contemporary and fantasy romance. She's published with Desert Breeze and Victory Tales Press. Her children's stories are published with 4RV Publishing.

23 comments:

  1. Great post and loved the background.

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  2. I always enjoy hearing about different traditions. Nice video!

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  3. Thank you ladies. I love learning about the different cultures and customs they have for the holiday. This was fun to research.

    Smiles
    Steph

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  4. Boy, priests look the same in every country, don't they? Our Easter customs when the girls were teens included new makeup in their Easter Baskets. (we did the same thing at back to school time). I was always really concerned about the stuff growing in mascara. I never gave it a thought as a kid, but I wanted the girls to have a perfect shot at eye health.

    I've only had one Easter with the grandkids, and that was also a christening, so I did a lot of cooking! So far, that doesn't seem to be a tradition, but you never know. I'll jump back in the kitchen if it brings everyone home.

    I loved your story, Steph!

    Maggie

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  5. Very well done, Steph. My Easters? Very common and oridnary, both when I was growing up and when I was a mommy. Always, we had a new dress, shoes, and in the fifties even little girls wore Easter hats. Never again...only on Easter. Oh, yes, and new purses. Those outfits became our spring and summer wardrobes for church.
    The Easter I remember best was when I was about six. Mother had made us bright yellow satin dresses with tiny buttons down the back and big wide sashes for a bow in the back. They weren't finishes, but we took off for our grandparents house, and Mother said she sew the buttons on when she got there. But she got very sick and ended up in the hospital. So my daddy sat down Saturday night and sewed the buttons on our dresses. Then on Easter morning, he dressed us, tied our bows, combed our hair, and buttoned us up. I will never forget that--I have a snapshot of us and our dresses.

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    1. Celia, I remember as a young girl before my parents divorced that was big with my mother - she wanted us to have a new dress for Easter and we always got one.

      That's something I've carried over. I always get the boys nice dress up clothes for Easter.

      Steph

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  6. Some Easter customs are also prevalent in the Jewish Passover Seder--like the egg that also symbolizes life.
    My mother made my sister and me Easter baskets even after we were grown. It always made me feel loved to go to my parents house and there would be my Easter basket filled with things I loved--even little thoughtful presents.
    Congratulations on those fantastic reviews, girl. I know they made you happy.

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    1. Sarah, my gosh, it's fun putting together the Easter baskets, but I really need to be careful on the chocolate. lol!!
      Smiles
      Steph

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  7. Maggie what foods did you cook? I'm glad you go to the christening, too. Let us know what you do for Easter this year.

    Currently, I take the boys to church. Last Brent and I cooked a lamb and I think we'll be doing that again this year. No pierogi making this year. I can't fit it in. They'll be an egg hunt and I bought the boys Easter clothes.

    Smiles
    Steph

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  8. I love Easter primarily because what it means to me as a Christian, so Christmas and Easter are the heavyweight holidays at my home. I admire your sharing your traditions, and your pic is intriguing - all those baskets!

    The book sounds great, Steph. Best wishes on this and all your projects.

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    1. Thanks EA. Christmas and Easter are important in my home too. Last year, Andrew and I had our baskets blessed at St.Peter Claver in Simi Valley, CA. I didn't take any pics but if we go again this year, I think I will.

      Steph

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  9. Steph, thank you and every one for sharing their Easter traditions. Easter was a big holy day in my Greek family. My Granpa insisted his six children and their children attended the Easter midnight mass together, even the small ones stayed awake for the celebration. After the Mass, we had a special dinner at 1 am at my grandparents, and we tried to crack each others' colored eggs, one saying in Greek Chritos Anesti (Christ is risen) and the other answering Aristos Anesti (yes he is risen). Of course we had new outfits. I kept the colored eggs tradition with my children and now with my grandchildren.

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    1. Mona, for me, as a child and as an adult, coloring the eggs was always the fun part! I remember I was 17 with a job and I spent that week's paycheck buying eggs, coloring and chocolate bunnies so I could organize a hunt for my younger cousins. Thanks for sharing your traditions. It's nteresting to hear about.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  10. Steph, I love learning about others traditions at holidays. We went to church then had baked ham, mashed potatoes, and peas. My favorite meal!!

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    1. Jill, I love that menu! hehe.
      Smiles
      Steph

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  11. When we were kids we sometimes got Easter baskets, sometimes, not. We didn't have much money.

    Now, the DH and I usually go with his side to a brunch, and visit my side either before or afterward.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://facebook.com/morgan.mandel

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    1. Morgan, ((hugs)) Our Easter baskets were never as elaborate as Christmas, just enough to remind us that the focus was on the spiritual aspect of the holiday.

      Steph

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  12. When we lived in Oxford, my son's best friend was the son of the orthodox bishop and we were invited to spend Easter with them. What a wonderful experience! We loved the amazing decorated eggs and the roast lamb, barbecued outside in the garden and tended to by the children. Your post brought back a lovely memory. Thank you
    xxx

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    1. Jenny, thanks for sharing. It sounds like a very special memory. I can picture the garden and the smells. Here in California it's still a little on the cold side but cold for us is 40 in the nights and 70 during the days. Not many blossoms right now though. Sigh....
      Steph

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  13. When we were kids in Africa, we couldn't get chocolate eggs, so we had real eggs died with food colour which we loved. Now my great-nieces and nephews go on a massive chocolate egg hunt at my sister's house and overdose on sugar! As for me, as long as I get my Cadbury's creme egg, I'm a happy bunny.

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    1. LizB - OMGosh! Yes, I love Cadbury creme eggs. They're my favorite during this time of year.

      Smiles
      Steph

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  14. Beautiful video and it certainly captured my interest.

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  15. What a lovely blog! My family loved Easter, too. Somehow things have fallen by the wayside since my parents are gone and our kids are scattered.

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