Growing up in my Slovenian heritage every Good Friday we would prepare a huge feast to bring to church for Blessing of the Food/Blessing of the Easter Basket on Holy Saturday.
Typically, you’d lay your basket on or around the altar where literally a small service of usually 10 minutes would take place. The priest would pray over the food, bless all the basket, sprinkle holy water as well as do a walk through with incense and you were on your way.
It was always a fun time, colouring eggs and putting a collection of foods together to have blessed. In our home, on Easter morning, the basket was taken apart and served and everyone had to at least a small portion of the blessed food and it had to be the first thing we consumed before all else, so we too could be blessed in turn. Somehow as a child I was eager to taste a bit of everything, it seemed special and different and felt like it tasted better than the same food that was not blessed.
This a practice that dates back hundreds of years finding its roots in Slavic cultures; Slovenian, Polish, Ukrainian, Hungarian, Romanian and even in Rome, Italy and so on, I’ve noticed in my lifetime that it’s becoming more of a ritual for all people; more and more churches have started or restarted this age old ritual.
The significance of this ages old ritual was that it could promote health of body and salvation of the soul for all those that partake in it, through Christ the Lord.
Typically a basket is lined with white a white cloth and decorated with ribbon and flowers to symbolize spring and renewal. The food items also symbolize or represent the following:
Easter Eggs – Christ’s resurrection
Lamb, Lamb Shaped Butter or Sugar – Christ as Lamb of God
Bread – Christ as Bread of Life
Ham – Joy and Abundance
Sausage – God’s favour and generosity
Smoked Bacon – overabundance of God’s mercy
Salt – prosperity and justice
Cheese – moderation
Horseradish and pepper - Passion of Christ and the bitter herbs of the Passover
White Candle – light of the world
Linen Cover - the covering of Christ’s shroud
Over the years, I’ve seen new and personal items being added to the baskets such as wedding and engagement rings, precious jewelry inherited from loved ones. Some churches also do blessing of the pets, where people bring in their most cherished family members. Small children make their own baskets filled with eggs and candies; now how cute is that, little wee ones all decked out in the Easter finest bring their baskets to church!