Holy Saturday in Polish is “Wielka Sobota”, which translates to “Great Saturday” (though not “great” as a synonym for “fantastic”). It’s the final day of preparation for Wielkanoc, which translates to “Great Night.” But nestled in the hustle and chaos of cooking, cleaning, ironing, and fretting is a great (in this case, synonymous with “fantastic”) tradition: the blessing of the Easter baskets.
Dressed in the traditional outfits of Podhale and armed with two baskets overflowing with food for Easter breakfast, we headed to the church early in order to get our obligatory Easter family portrait.
When we entered the church, the Girl was fascinated: so many baskets, so many colored eggs — which to choose? Only a quick eye and a quicker hand kept the Girl from pillaging and plundering.
The baskets tell another story, though. The church wasn’t filled, but there were enough pockets of English conversation in the generally Polish-expat crowd that it became obvious that others see the value and beauty of this tradition.
The priest, Father Theo, certainly likes the tradition. He positively beamed as he spoke, and the joy of his kind embrace of the tradition was infectious.
So contagious was his joy that he managed to talk a young lady into coming up to read the passage about the Passover tradition. No practice, no warning, just a kind smile and a complement about her dress.
Another kind word and all the kids in traditional costumes joined Father Theo.
After the blessing, it was a free-for-all,
on both sides of the lenses. As I was taking a picture, I felt the crowd gathering about me. I realized the real picture was about ten steps behind me.
Shortly thereafter, the shot was about twenty steps in front of me.
And when you’re carrying around a large DSLR, everyone asks you for a picture.
Then again, Father Theo has good reason: his camera is a Canon that lacks a screen on the back and, rumor has it, records the pictures on a thin plastic film. I don’t believe it myself, but I can attest to the camera’s lack of a LCD screen. How in the world does he preview his pictures?
How does he know, for example, that some outside shots need a little over-exposure?
How would he’d managed to slide his hand back into his pocket, concealing the remote shutter release?
Or know that he’d captured the petals of spring blossoms falling snow?
Or be sure that he’s caught the conference of Polish women?
“Nonsense!” the Girl would declare. “All that matters is the tree I see the boys climbing and my first chance to try it for myself.” With a nervous father always close at hand.
In the end, the best that could be said about such a busy day can’t be said with words.
Happy Almost-Easter to all.