Weekend Coffee Shareis a time for us to take a break out of our lives and enjoy some time catching up with friends (old and new)!
If we were having coffee, I’d ask you about your Easter and how you’re liking the spring weather. I’d then tell you how happy I was to discover a new tradition, Polish Easter Basket Blessings, which I saw on Saturday. The Poles’ baskets contain symbolic items (explained here). The ceremony was short and a lot of people turned out in their finery.
I’d share that I had a nice Easter despite not getting to church early enough for a seat in the sanctuary. Later I had brunch with my brother and his family. Since the weather was warm and I needed to burn off some calories, I went on a walk at a park not to far that’s got a small lake.
Thursday afternoon I attended a fashion show at Talbots to see the spring offerings. They had wine, sparkling water, and some sweets on hand. If I hadn’t given up sweets for Holy Week I sure would have indulged. I satisfied myself with a glass of sparkling wine. The show was well done and though they offered a discount, there was not pressure to buy. Nonetheless I did splurge on a blue and purple dress for Easter. I needed something colorful.
I’ve been watching the DVD of an old (1979) British drama Flambards. I remember seeing it in the ’80s and loving it. While the production quality is low compared to what we see to today, the drama is every bit as engaging. Someone should remake it.
I recently learned of a Polish custom of getting Easter baskets blessed. The church just north of me had a sign about this ritual, which was held today at 1:30 pm. Even though the service was in Polish, I decided to go.
Over 200 people attended the event, most dressed up and brought traditional baskets like the one above. Other baskets were contemporary. The tradition is to put your family’s Easter Day food in the basket and have the priest bless it the Saturday before Easter.
The service I attended was short and sweet with some dialog between the priest and the congregation, the priest talking and then families bringing up their baskets and the priest spraying holy water over the baskets.
This ceremony was outside and the priest blesses all the baskets together rather than one by one as I saw.
Each item in the basket is symbolic. According to one article, “The baskets themselves are decorated with flowers, ribbons and greenery and lined with or covered by linen, which is often embroidered. The linen is symbolic of the shroud that covered the body of Jesus in the tomb.
“Foods in the basket and their symbolism include:
Salt representing wisdom, purity and preservation. It reminds us to flavor our dealings with others by the example of Christ.
Butter, often in the shape or a lamb — the Lamb of God — is symbolic of the goodwill of Christ that we should have toward all things.
Babka the sweet, eggy Easter Bread, often round and always topped with a cross symbolizing Jesus — the Bread of Life, the Risen Lord and the sweetness of life. Other baked goods, including lamb-shaped pound cakes, might also be included.
Bread, often sourdough rye bread, the staff of life.
Kielbasa, symbolic of God’s favor and generosity. Eastern European traditions contend the sausage links are a reminder of the chains of death that were broken when Jesus rose from the dead.
Bacon and/or ham, symbolic of the overabundance of God’s mercy.
Horseradish — as in the Passover meal — this bitter herb symbolizes the harshness of life and Passion of Christ. In the the Polish Easter tradition, horseradish is sweetened by mixing it with red beets — cwikta.
Cheese including Pascha, cottage cheese, goat cheese or cream cheese, a symbol to remind Christians to show moderation for all things.
Eggs, usually brightly decorated, symbolic of spring, new life and Christ’s resurrection from the tomb.
Wine, the drink of the Passover meal and Las Supper. Wine gladdens the heart and helps us enter into the joy of the resurrection and its sparkle reminds us of the glory of Easter.
Chocolates in the form of eggs, bunnies, jelly beans or sugar lambs are 20th-century additions to the baskets, symbolic of the sweetness of life.
Candle representing Christ as the Light of the world.”
Yesterday my friend Maryann and I enjoyed a walking tour around the Pilsen neighborhood, which is full of colorful murals. The Chicago History Museum organized the tour. The guide was knowledgeable and able to handle some trouble makers like the guy, who when the guide was briefly giving his bio blurted out “who cares?” (Luckily he didn’t continue to be so obnoxious.)
We learned about the neighborhood, which was first settled by Bohemians and other Eastern Europeans. We learned the difference between graffiti (by artists and by gang members) and murals. We learned about the history and imagery of many murals in the neighborhood. The tour was 90 minutes but if it was twice as long we wouldn’t have seen everything.
The tour will be offered, rain or shine, again on May 11th by the Chicago History Museum. I bet they’ll have one a month while the weather’s good.
If you have even a slight interest in the Beatles’, you’ll like graphic biography,Lennon: The New York Years.With simple black and white illustrations, Lennon: The New York Years tells the singer’s life as a series of therapy sessions which help John Lennon make sense of his life.
Though I’ve read other books on The Beatles this book added new details about his childhood, particularly his relationship to his father, and about his later life. I wasn’t aware of the assistant Yoko hired after she caught John being unfaithful. (True, John and Yoko both cheated on their spouses when they first met but still John’s infidelity hurt her.) The assistant May was to report in to Yoko daily and was a spy as well as an assistant. John knew that. There apparently was a tacit agreement that sleeping with May was okay. These arrangements did not lead to happiness or enlightenment or freedom. (I’m not surprised.)
Definitely, told from Lennon’s perspective, the book is a quick read and the illustrations enhance the story well, conveying a past era. It’s not a book I’d recommend to a young teen because of its adult experiences and their depictions, e.g. showing Lennon using heroin. But for mature readers interested in music history or for graphic novel enthusiasts, it’s a satisfying book.
I saw on Inside Lens, a Japanese TV documentary that in Japan people rent “friends” if their real friends aren’t attractive enough for Instagram and social media photos or they rent families if they’re lonely. (That video’s not on YouTube.) Here Conan O’Brien used such a service.
Renting friends or family has such a melancholy feeling, but this other Japanese trend bothers me more. You can pay someone to apologize for you.
While the service is costly at $400-500 USD, I still think these customers are getting off easy.