How to Decorate the Polish Easter Basket
We know the importance of the items that go inside the Polish Easter basket, but the decoration of the basket is also an integral part of the Polish Easter tradition. The type of decoration is really up the creativity of every individual, but there are a few, key components that the Polish basket tradition usually calls for:
- Line the basket with a crisp, white linen napkin - although nowadays other colors or patterns can be used, the Polish custom calls for lining the Easter basket with a neatly pressed, white linen napkin. The side walls of the basket can also be trimmed with white lace. The white napkin serves as a symbol of baptism in which everyone receives a "white robe." It also represents purity and innocence as well as hope and victory of good over evil through the resurrection.
- Colored ribbons - decorative ribbons can be wrapped around the handles of the basket.
- Greenery - green branches should be placed inside the basket or attached at its sides. They are a symbol of life and rebirth. Typically, boxwood, blueberry, oats, or watercress are incorporated. All these green elements are to emphasize the vitality and power of rebirth. In folk tradition, oat, which first dies as grain thrown into the ground, and then "resurrects" through green shoots gives hope for resurrection after death. That is why in some regions it is popular to carry containers with sprouted oats to the graves of loved ones to bring them the good Easter news that life will conquer death. Boxwood twigs decorating the Easter basket have a similar task. There are households where watercress is sown in advance so that Christmas eggs can be served on such green bedding. Green elements in the basket are said to bring the promise of wealth and vitality.
- Flowers - Fresh flowers can also be placed within the basket as a decor element. Typically these are daffodils, but others can be incorporated as well. If fresh, large flowers don’t fit, alternatively small paper flowers can be attached to the sides or the handle of the basket.
- Pisanki - whether you paint hard boiled eggs yourself or use decorative Polish wooden eggs, these also add a beautiful splash of color to the basket. Eggs are an inseparable symbol of the Easter holiday, a pre-Christian symbol of power, life, rebirth and inner strength. In the past, Christianity tried to get rid of this symbol as it was associated with witchcraft, magic and pagan customs; but, because these attempts turned out not to be very successful, the egg was eventually included in the spring holiday celebrations. Eggs were initially forbidden throughout Lent and were only welcomed at Sunday breakfast after the Resurrection. Even more impatient to eat it, the faithful began meticulously decorating the eggs by making kraszanki (a regional Polish Easter egg) and other painted Easter eggs a few days earlier. The egg, as an ancient symbol of hidden power, has become a permanent part of the Christian Easter announcing the victory of Life.
- Easter palm - the vibrant and decorative Polish Easter palm is also often placed within the basket as an additional element of decor.