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Easter in Warsaw

Easter time in Poland coincides with the spring period in which nature comes to life from its long winter sleep. Visit Warsaw at this time and learn about Easter customs that are still practised and see how the city combines folk traditions with modernity. At specially organised fairs you can taste Easter delicacies and buy original souvenirs. Festivals of classical and folk music provide unforgettable experiences. And if it’s not your thing, you can feast your eyes on the beauty of nature awakening in Warsaw’s parks, which you can get to on one of the thousands of the city’s Veturilo rental bikes.

The occasion is celebrated in the Catholic church a week before Easter and it celebrates the triumphal entry of Jesus to Jerusalem, during which crowds threw cloaks as well as olive and palm branches on the road. In Warsaw, palm trees are replaced by blooming willow twigs decorated with boxwood and dry flowers. See how they look when local people in Warsaw walk with them to their churches.

The day after, Holy Week starts, which ends with the Easter Triduum lasting for three days. It is the most beautiful and longest liturgy of the year. For locals, this is the last stage of preparations for the holiday. It is a time to contemplate but also a time for preparation of traditional Easter dishes.

See the church service that dates back to the Middle Ages, re-creating the last path of Jesus Christ. The Central Way of the Cross, which follows the Royal Route on the Friday preceding the holidays, is attended by several thousand Varsovians. Participants set out from St. Anne’s Church and walk down the main promenade of Warsaw, praying and singing songs of Lent. The procession stops at places associated with Pope John Paul II to listen to his words read by the students of the Theatre Academy. Weighing over 100 kg, the cross is carried alternately by representatives of various professions: artists, lawyers, crafts people, firefighters, soldiers, members of the local government, as well as students and scouts. The procession ends in St. Anne’s Church, where until late at night you can see the faithful watching over the symbolic tomb of Jesus.

You can also see interesting reconstructions of Jesus’ tomb in the form of installations with light displays in many churches. In addition to references to the true tomb of Jesus, they often refer to the current situation in the world and they captivate with their beauty and rich symbolism. On Saturday, the day Jesus was buried in the tomb, many people in Warsaw visit them.

Don’t be surprised when you see crowds of locals with wicker baskets in hand on Easter Saturday. It’s not a picnic, but the tradition of blessing food, which goes back to the Middle Ages in Poland. Decorated with green branches, the baskets contain food to be blessed in the church, which local people then share with their loved ones at Easter breakfast the next day. In addition to the figurine of the Lamb of God made of dough or sugar, the baskets contain boiled eggs, bread, salt, horseradish, smoked meat, cheese and cake.

Each item has its own meaning, for example eggs are a symbol of new life and refer to the resurrection of Jesus. Bread is a symbol of his body, but also of prosperity. You can see these baskets on the streets only once a year.

A special place in the Easter basket, and then on the Easter table, are painted eggs – boiled eggs in colourfully decorated shells. The custom of painting eggs is still alive in Poland and has a very old tradition. The egg itself symbolises the revival of life, while Christianity links it to the resurrection of Christ. In the past, young girls competed to create the most beautiful pattern. On Easter Monday they gave their prettiest painted egg to their boyfriend, or gave them as ‘ransom’ to avoid being drenched on the celebration of dyngus. Now, it is a family tradition in which children are happy to participate. Instead of natural dyes and traditional techniques, they often use modern styles and materials bought in shops. Use your imagination and create your own painted egg with the pattern you invented.

If you spent Saturday night in the city, you don’t have to order a wake-up call. On the first day of the holiday, the Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection, church bells will wake you up before dawn, which along with thunderously sung hymns, are accompanied by resurrection processions from churches. If you’re in the right spirit, you’ll enjoy the Good News of the resurrection that they proclaim. You can also experience it on Saturday after midnight. It happens increasingly that the procession takes place at the end of the Easter Vigil celebrated as Saturday turns to Sunday.

The celebrations, most often in families, begin with breakfast, wishes and the sharing of eggs. For the next two days, people sit at the table and enjoy traditional Easter dishes: sour rye soup, white borscht, juniper smoked ham, white hot sausage, roasted meat, pates and baked goods: sponge cakes, mazurkas and cheesecakes.

Join music lovers from around the world at Ludwig van Beethoven Easter Festival in Warsaw. The program of the festival, which takes place before Easter, features outstanding performers and renowned ensembles and orchestras.

Warsaw is waiting for you with dozens of parks that in April explode with greenery and the colours of blossom. They were created in different historical periods, so they represent very different styles, but in each you will find paths, lakes and ponds guaranteeing an ideal rest. In the summer residence of the last king of Poland, or Royal Łazienki Park, thousands of tulips bloom during this period and the Pole Mokotowskie – beloved by Varsovians – changes into a sea of colourful fruit trees, while in Wilanów the saucer magnolias are truly captivating. If you have an appetite for more, visit the Botanical Garden in Powsin where over 90 varieties of this unusual shrub can be found in the magnolia grove (in various shades, from white to deep purple).

When you are at the Royal Castle, don’t forget to visit the newly rebuilt garden, recreated, like the castle itself, based on Canaletto’s paintings. From the garden planted with supposedly the most popular flowers of the interwar period – forget-me-nots – an unforgettable view of the Vistula river spreads out. In its vicinity there is a real pearl – one of the largest roof gardens in Europe divided into parts differing in colour and smell.