Posted by: Ernest Barteldes | March 30, 2018

Bringing Together Easter Traditions


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By Ernest Barteldes 

 

Whenever Easter comes around, Renata and I bring together our different traditions for the Holiday: although both Brazil and Poland are big Catholic countries (Poland far more than Brazil, since many in the latter are pretty lapsed even if they say otherwise), the manner in which they celebrate is very different. 

Though neither of us are particularly religious, we do enjoy observing some of the traditions that come with the time  – it makes the time special instead of being just another weekend, and also makes us get into more of a celebratory mode.  

The Chocolate Easter Egg 

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Brazilian Easter eggs at Supermarket

Soon after Ash Wednesday goes by, supermarkets in Brazil are filled with decorated chocolate eggs that are far different from the ones you find in US stores; they came in a variety of sizes ranging from 200 grams (about 8 oz.) to as much as two pounds. Also, they are filled with chocolates inside. Like sizes, flavors vary a lot, ranging from pure milk chocolate to blends with nougat, crispy puffed rice or coconut, to name a few.  

Although they are available on online sites like Amazon.com, I prefer to head over to Astoria’s Rio Supermarket to take my pick. The trip also allows me to stock up on Brazilian products that are not too easy to find, such as cassava flour (to make farofa) and my preferred brands of coffee. 

The Good Friday Codfish 

Though Brazilians are incredibly fond of their meats, it is unlikely you will find anyone eating beef on Good Friday. The tradition there is for the family to come together after 3 PM (when the death of Christ is commemorated in Church) – most workers are off that day – and eat a dish made from salted codfish. Recipes may vary around the country (I have an Italian-inspired Sao Paulo recipe below) , it is something that most people do, so supermarkets stock up in preparation for that day.  

The Polish Easter Basket & Blessing (Święconka) 

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Blessing in Poland

Catholics in Poland have a unique custom of bringing a basket to church on the day before Easter Sunday for a blessing. This is something Renata explained me early in our relationship and that we have followed since. In the basket, you put a sample of the foods you are going to eat on Easter morning, which includes kielbasa (sausage), hard-boiled eggs, bread, babka (a kind of cake) and other items, all which symbolize part of the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and also the abundance that comes with the resurrection. Here on Staten Island, the ceremony is done every hour on Saturday, and large groups of Poles and their families lay their baskets on a large table. The priest conducts a prayer for each item in the basket and then asperses them in holy water. The ceremony lasts about 20 minutes, and then families pick up their baskets and leave. According to the tradition, all the blessed foods must be consumed during Easter breakfast.  

Easter Sunday, Polish style 

As most of this blog’s followers know, I am no longer a member of the Brazilian Catholic Community in Greenwich Village, and have also ceased participating at mass altogether at St. Peter’s Church on Staten Island. I am not going to elaborate much on it because those were private decisions.  

But we still do our own Polish-style Easter celebration at home, beginning with a short prayer and the sharing of the blessed foods during breakfast. It is a nice time together, and then we go on with the rest of the day and look forward to the week ahead.  

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Good Friday Codfish recipe

Ingredients

1 lb salted codfish

1/2 pint heavy cream

1 lb spaghetti

2 onions, thinly sliced

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1 carrot, sliced

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

2 tbsp. olive oil

4 tbsp parsley

salt and pepper to taste

Preparation

Soak the codfish overnight, changing the water often. Cook the codfish in boiling water for 10-15 minutes and shred. Cook the pasta according to package instructions and reserve. Heat the olive oil and add the sliced onions and chopped garlic. When they soften, add the sliced peppers and carrots and let soften. Add the fish, stir and add the cooked pasta and half the parsley. Add the heavy cream and heat through. Serve with the rest of the parsley as a garnish.

 

 

 

 

 


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