Poland is a country full of unique traditions and customs, especially those rooted in the Catholic faith. One of the most important holidays is that of Easter. For many, celebrating Easter starts a week prior on Palm Sunday followed by the Holy Week, Easter Saturday and Sunday and finally concluding with a rather wet Easter Monday.

Palm Sunday commemorates Christ’s triumphal entry to Jerusalem. It marks the end of Lent and the beginning of Holy Week, during which time the faithful prepare themselves to celebrate Easter. To mark Palm Sunday colorful “palm trees,” traditionally made from willow branches and decorated with evergreen plants, are brought into churches on that day. Some of these palms can reach over 19 feet.

A unique festival takes place on the market square of Lipnica Murowana on Palm Sunday every year, where local people compete to produce the tallest plaited palm. The challenge of lifting such a large colorful structure, which reaches an average of 65 feet in height.

The Holy Week is marked with various spiritual and traditional celebrations. Polish families prepare their homes for Easter with spring cleaning, shopping and preparing foods associated with this holiday. One of the most colorful traditions, which also requires practice and skill, is that of making Pisanki. This Polish version of a traditional Easter Egg is often hand painted and richly ornamented.

On Easter Saturday, baskets of traditional Easter food are taken to church to be blessed. This food, after being blessed, is then consumed as a part of the Easter Sunday meal known as the Easter Breakfast. The Easter Breakfast consists of hard-boiled eggs, cold cuts, smoked meats, vegetable salads, babka, and other dishes.

Easter Monday is a family holiday in Poland and is called Smigus Dyngus, or Wet Monday, after the practice of people pouring water on each other. It is best to assume that on this day, no one is safe from the Smigus Dyngus tradition!

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