The characteristic dish prepared on the occasion of the Green Holidays(Pentecost) was jajecznica or, as it was called in some parts of Poland wajeczyna or wajeczynica. It was a simple dish of scrambled eggs. The eggs were fried somewhere in the open air, most often by a forest or in a meadow, near a river or stream. Friends, relatives or neighbors got together and went out to the forest or to a nearby river. Using river rock or stones found nearby, they built up a bonfire on which to fry the eggs. Each housewife brought a few eggs in their aprons or baskets, a chunk of smoked bacon, or sausage, a large fry pan and a loaf of rye bread and some chives. The housewives placed portions of the scrambled eggs on pieces of the rye bread and distributed it those present. The men brought some alcohol to share and enliven the festivities. The young also invited a village musician to this scrambled egg feast because it was a great opportunity to be together to sing and dance until late in the evening.
There are many aspects to the celebration of Pentecost in Poland. The official church name is Zesłania Ducha Swiętego, the Descent of the Holy Ghost.
In Polish folk tradition, this time of year celebrated the blossoming and greening of nature and was called Zielone Swiątki, the Green Holidays. In very ancient times it marked the end of spring ( Pentecost ends the liturgical Easter season) and the beginning of summer. It was connected with many agricultural beliefs and customs and ceremonies that date to ancient pre-Christian times and the pagan cult of trees, water and fire. Among the most important among them was the triumphal "greening" of the world once again. The newly budded branches , symbolized the revival of life, fertility and the promise of a harvest. It was believed that the green branches also protected from spells, plagues and all evil and accounts for their widespread use in the festivities that centered around the home, barnyard, fences .
The tree branch that plays one of the most important roles was that of the birch tree. It comes up consistently in the celebration of the Green Holidays in various parts of Poland. It was to have the power to protect against witchcraft and the evil eye. Branches were tucked not just behind holy pictures and placed in vases, etc., but most often nailed around windows and especially the door, the entrance to the house, as well as tucked into the thatched roof of the cottage. Sometimes young green birch trees were placed in pots at the entrance to the cottage, and another entrance, the gates to the yard. Other greening branches were used as well such as maple, linden and hornbeam to decorate fences as well as church altars and roadside shrines.
The second most important greenery to be collected for the home on this holiday was the fragrant , scented sweet flag, known in Latin as Acorus Calamus. In Polish it is known as tatarak, kalmus, kalmusowym ziele or Tatarskie ziele. Growing in wet, marshy areas near rivers and streams it was placed in vases on a home altar or in the corners of the main room of the cottage. There was a saying: Zielone Świątki - tatarak w kątki (The Green Holidays, calamus in the corners). The most preferred method of having sweet flag in the house was to cut or chop it into smaller pieces and scatter it on the floors of the house. Whether a humble, hard packed floor of a cottage or the wooden floor of a manor house, the sweet smelling herb(many say smells like cinnamon) was indispensable. In the mid 1800's Polish ethnographer Oskar Kolberg described it: "On the day(Pentecost) they sweep the porch and the front of the house, and sprinkle the place with calamus..."
I think it's time to bring in some greenery and plant some calamus!
Google image. National Museum of Krakow(Muzeum Narodowe w Krakowie
Pentecost is the Christian festival celebrating the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus. It occurs in May or early June as it is, like Easter, a mobile holiday. This year it occurs on May 20th.
The word Pentecost comes from the Greek pentecostē, meaning 50 days. On the seventh Sunday after Easter, fifty days after the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus Christ , the church celebrates the descent of the Holy Spirit on the disciples of Jesus. In descending on the apostles with tongues of fire that made the apostles speak in foreign tongues, the apostles could go forth and preach the message of Christ to the world. In essence, it marks the beginning of the church as we know it and is one of its most important holy days of the year.
From the time of Pope Innocent III, red become the liturgical color for celebrating this most important holy day of the year with the priest wearing red vestments. Sometimes Christians will dress in red as well or decorate the churches with red. In the Middle Ages, there was a custom of throwing rose petals from the oculus, the small circular window in the domes of many basilicas and cathedrals, down on the worshipers during mass to symbolize the red tongues of fire that came down on the apostles. Sometimes cages of doves were released to fly in the vaulted ceilings to symbolize the Holy Spirit.
The custom of throwing down rose petals continues in Rome at the ancient 2000 year old temple known as the Pantheon that is now a Catholic Church dedicated to St. Mary of the Martyrs. Although this comes from Pentecost 2016, you can view it at this website:
One of the biggest moments in my life was being able to sign for my very own library card. When I'm not reading, researching and writing I'm riding my bike, sewing or gardening. I love flea markets, folk art, and traveling to Poland.