Saturday, April 7, 2012

Blessing of Baskets

This day in churches around the world the faithful bring baskets filled with food which they will share on Easter Sunday as they gather with family and friends to end the Lenten and Triduum fasts and join in celebrating the victory that Jesus won over death.  The Old World custom of the traditional blessing of  foods to be shared on Easter Sunday is observed by many Eastern European countries such as Poland, Croatia and Ukraine and is kept alive in America in many local parishes. The foods to be blessed as well as the baskets are very symbolic.  Baskets are selected to reflect the dignity and importance of this special occasion. The white linen cloth embellished with lace that lines the basket reminds us of the shroud of Christ and it is this cloth that will hold other significant symbols. The bread represents the bread of life given by God. The small lamb made of butter, sugar or dough reminds us of Jesus the Paschal Lamb.  The hard boiled eggs and colored eggs reminds us of new life and Jesus rising from  the tomb. Horseradish symbolizes accepting the bitter with the sweet in life.  The vinegar represents the sour wine given to Jesus on the cross. The ham, bacon and sausages represent the resurrected Christ . Salt is to add zest to life and preserve us from corruption.  Sweets suggest the promise of eternal life and the good things to come. The candle represents Jesus the Light of  the World and the optional bottle of wine the product of a bountiful harvest and blessing of God. Optional sprigs of green are also added by some people.  The baskets are blessed by the parish priest or deacon in a ceremony typicaly held on Holy Saturday. 
This year in our parish I was privileged to share the task of this annual blessing with Deacon Jerry and about one hundred parishioners. This is very meaningful for us as Catholics and especially those of us with family in Europe. Now that the baskets have been blessed - we set them aside and continue our preparation for celebration of tonight's Vigil Mass in which we start in darkness and the Light of Christ is revealed as the evening progresses.

Deacon Dale