Do you celebrate Easter traditions? Will children in your household be eagerly hunting for as many Easter eggs as they can find? Perhaps you’ll attend church and gather with family. If you’re like me, you’ll be using Easter as an excuse to eat chocolate and jelly beans!

When my boys were little, we would color Easter eggs. I can still recall the smell of vinegar, the tiny bottles of dye, and the kids’ excited chatter as they watched their white eggs magically transform into pink or green or blue ones. Sometimes they’d try colorful markers or wax designs, but our eggs never reached the artistic level of pisanki.

Pisanki is the Polish word for Easter eggs, and it’s derived from the word pisać, which means “to write.” It also once meant “to paint.”

One of Poland’s Easter traditions is to take the colorful pisanski and add them to baskets with other Easter foods to be blessed on Holy Saturday. On Easter Sunday, the pisanski are then given to family and friends with wishes for prosperity and good health.

Though the majority of the country identifies as Catholic, Poles also celebrate the ancient pagan Slavic ritual of drowning Winter’s Witch on the first day of spring. This is known as the Drowning of Marzanna, or Topienie Marzanny.

Polish traditional parade

The history of this spring equinox celebration goes waaaaay back and is steeped in the fear that winter would continue its hold on the countryside. In order to usher in spring and ensure an abundant harvest, citizens would create a straw effigy, parade it through town where people could “torture” it, then set it ablaze at dusk. Finally, they would hurl it into the river, thoroughly “drowning” it for good measure. No doubt, Marzanna was good and dead by the end of the ritual. It must have been quite the party!

Do you have any spring or Easter traditions you care to share?