Photo by Krystal, from the Fine Fettle blog:http://nfinefettle.blogspot.com/2009/04/whats-in-your-pascha-basket.html
Though in fact one cannot “convert” to Byzantine Catholicism if raised a Latin Catholic, as you remain a Catholic, in fact it is akin to converting. You realize pretty quickly, like my friends who converted to Catholicism from Protestantism, that you have not just embraced a faith, you have entered a whole culture, with its unique terminology and customs.
I remember when I was asked to be a godfather to a convert friend’s child and when I showed up at church I realized that I wasn’t the only godfather: there was another guy, also to be godfather. My friends had been instructed that they needed “two sponsors” and they did not realize that this traditionally meant a godfather and a godmother. The priest was a little surprised and more than a little amused, but canonically it was apparently legit, and so my godchild has two godfathers.
Upon embracing Byzantine Catholicism ten years ago, we also encountered a lot of unspoken assumptions that we, unlike those born into it, had to learn anew.
And so, upon our first Pascha (Easter) we read in the bulletin that Easter baskets would be blessed after the Divine Liturgy and intended on bringing our children’s baskets, with jelly beans and chocolates, to be blessed. Fortunately we were spared this faux pas when our kids received this handout in religion class:
How to Put Together a Traditional Easter Basket
Text by: Rev. Basil Kraynyak
All Illustrations by: Mary Ellen Petro
|PASKA– The Easter Bread (pron, paska).A sweet , yeast bread rich in eggs, butter, etc. Symbolic of Christ Himself who is our True Bread. Usually a round loaf baked with a golden crust decorated with a symbol indicative of Christ. Sometimes a cross of dough is placed on top encircled by a plait giving it a crowned effect, or Greek abbreviations for the name of Christ. The letters XB indicate the Slavonic for “Christ is Risen.”||CHEESE (Hrudka or Sirets, pronounced – hrood-ka or si-rets) A custard-type cheese shaped into a ball having a rather bland but sweet taste indicative of the moderation that Christians should have in all things. Also, creamed cheese is placed in a small dish and both are decorated with symbols made of cloves or pepper balls.|
|HAM (Sunka – pronounced shoon-ka) The flesh meat popular with Slavs as the main dish because of its richness and symbolic of the great joy and abundance of Easter. Some may prefer lamb or veal. This is usually well roasted or cooked as well as other meats prepared in advance so that the festivity of the day will not be burdened with preparation and all may enjoy the Feast.||BUTTER (Maslo – pronounced ma-slo) This favorite dairy product is shaped into the figure of a lamb or small cross and decorated as the cheese. This reminds us of the goodness of Christ that we should have toward all things.|
|SAUSAGE (Kolbasi – pronounced kol-bus-i) A spicy, garlicy sausage of pork products, indicative of God’s favor and generosity||BACON (Slanina – pronounced – sla-ni-na) A piece of uncooked bacon cured with spices. Symbolic of the overabundance of God’s mercy to us.|
|EGGS (Pisanki – pronounced – pi-sun-ki) Hard boiled eggs brightly decorated with symbols and markings made with beeswax. Indicative of new life and resurrection.||SALT (Sol – pronounced sol’) A condiment necessary for flavor reminding the Christian of his duty to others.|
|HORSERADISH (Chrin – pronounced – khrin) Horseradish mixed with grated red beets. Symbolic of the Passion of Christ still in our minds but sweetened with some sugar because of the Resurrection. A bitter -sweet red colored mixture reminds us of the sufferings of Christ.||These articles are placed in a wicker basket and a ribbon or bow is tied to the handle. A decorated candle is placed in the basket and is lit at the time of blessing. A linen cover usually embroidered with a picture of the Risen Christ or symbol with the words “Christ is Risen” is placed over the foods when brought to the church. In some places a large Easter Bread (Paska) is made and brought separately in a large linen cloth. If the origin of the people was from a wine growing region, a sweet wine may be brought.|
May You Have a Happy and Blessed Easter
Christ is Risen! Christos Voskrese!
Indeed, He is Risen! Voistinu Voskrese!
You see, the “Easter Basket” in the Eastern tradition isn’t about candy, it is composed of all the foods traditionally abstained from during Lent (even though not many probably observe this today). We would have looked pretty silly if we had showed up with jelly beans and chocolate eggs, though I’m sure that it wouldn’t have been the first time new Easternlings have done so.