31 March 2010

Traditional Pacha Basket Food for the Paschal BreakFast

In the Eastern Orthodox Churches, after Great and Holy Friday's Divine Liturgy (or more often on the evening o Holy Saturday prior to Paschal Vespers), the Clergy and Faithful process out into the Church Courtyard for the Blessing of Paschal Food.

First of all, the Artos is blessed. The Artos (Greek Bread) is a loaf baked especially for the Paschal Services.

It is yet another symbol of the Risen Messiah, who is the Bread of Life, coming down from heaven (John 6:35ff.) The Artos is set on Analoy and place before the Holy Doors of the Altar throughout Bright Week.
The Artos, like the Resurrection Icon, is carried in the daily Paschal Processions of the Cross. On Bright Saturday (often transferred to Thomas Sunday, following the reading of a special prayer, it is broken into pieces and distributed to the Faithful.

In the courtyard, when all have taken the places, the Easter Baskets are blessed.

They contain all the food from which the Faithful have been abstaining during the period of the Great Fast in preparation to celebrate the Great Day.

They contain such Traditional items as:
  • Kielbasi (Polish Sausage) and Ham recalling to us the Heavenly Banquet, the proverbial Fatted Calf and the richness of God's great mercy.
  • Paska Cheese and butter (The Resurrection inaugurates the entrance into the Promised future Kingdom, of which Israel, the Promised land of Milk and Honey, is an historic antitype.
  • Eggs symbolize New Life in Christ, proclaiming the Good News of the Resurrection and Divine love for humanity.
  • - Horseradish mixed with blood red Beets, which colour and taste recall the bitterness of the Passion and humanity's enslavement to sin.
  • - Salt for the Faithful being the Salt of the Earth {Matthew 5:13}.
  • - Paska Breads, decorated with a Cross and the Paschal Kerygma. Christ Himself is the Bread of Life come down from the Heavens.
The Butter is often carved into the shape of a Byzantine Cross or a Lamb (recalling Christ, the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world) and decorated in patterns depicting the Cross, using cloves, which are themselves Cross shaped.

A Candle is place in the Easter Basket, denoting the sacrality of the Festive Meal. A special cloth embroidered with "Christ is Risen!" and other Paschal symbols is used to cover the Basket.

On Pascha, Children (and anyone they can get to do it with them) play the game of Krashenky, where they hit each other's Easter Egg to see whose cracks first.

These foods are also eaten, as pious Orthodox Christians fast from all meat and dairy products before Pascha Easter) for Holy Week and the 40 days prior, known as the Great Lent.
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