April 2010

e p i s o d e # 22

Videography/Editing: Matthew Nothelfer
Photography/Editing: Alicia Wszelaki

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"The worst part is when you're almost done and you hear the dreaded 'crack'!" Suddenly, with a muttered curse, a beautiful Easter tradition turns into just another hardboiled egg for lunch.

For many Polish households, the beginning of spring starts with pisanki, the dyed and decorated Easter egg of Poland. Numerous techniques are used to naturally dye eggs, from flower petals to vegetables rind. And when scraped with a knife, the bright white layer of the egg below the dye is revealed.

Once decorated, pisanki are placed in Easter baskets along with, kielbasa (sausage), babka (polish cake), cwikla z chrzanem (beetroot and horseradish salad), chleb (bread) and other traditional Polish foods. The feast is carefully arranged for a swieconka, or blessing. These creations are taken to the church on Holy Easter Saturday. Hundreds of baskets overflow tables, and people wait solemnly for the priest's arrival to perform the blessing.

After a short ceremony, smiles return and visits to friend's baskets are made. The inspection of other pisanki begin. Egg trades are made. Wishes of happiness and healthy new beginnings are given. Saturdays swieconka is finally concluded the next morning with an elaborate Easter Sunday breakfast.

Creating a temporary work of art is beautiful. Each year I try to honor the traditions of my heritage, so I grumble resigned mutterings with the "cracks" I create, and I eat a lot more eggs than necessary!