The mouthwatering scent of bread, sausage and other foods wafted from the Saint Mary Mokena altar during the annual blessing of Easter baskets on Holy Saturday.
Well over 100 people adorned the altar with baskets of all shapes and sizes, as unique as each family. Multicolored eggs and sugar lambs could be spotted in several baskets, adding to the joyous display.
Father Raed presided over the blessing, sprinkling Holy Water on all the beautifully-decorated Easter baskets.
The Easter basket blessing tradition is centuries old, having originated in Eastern Europe. Today, Catholics of all ethnic backgrounds participate. Typically, the baskets contain:
- Bread, which symbolizes Christ;
- Decorated, hard-boiled eggs, which symbolize new life in Christ’s Resurrection;
- Sausage, which symbolizes God’s favor and generosity;
- Salt, which reminds us we are the “salt of the earth;”
- Horseradish and pepper, which symbolizes Christ’s bitter Passion;
- A sugar lamb, which symbolizes Christ, the Lamb of God.
Other foods are also often included, such as fruits, chocolates, ham, cheese, etc. A white linen covers the food-filled basket, symbolizing Christ’s burial shroud.
After the blessing, the food in the basket is traditionally eaten during breakfast on Easter morning. The Holy Saturday blessing, with its festive baskets and abundant food, serves as a reminder that the austerity of Lent is over and the joy of Easter is right around the corner.
>> To learn more about the blessing of Easter baskets, visit this site.