Easter in Poland and Madeira

It would seem that the Easter traditions are the same in Madeira or Portugal as in ours. After all, they are the same Catholic countries, not so distant from Poland, so Easter should not be very different. And in fact, some of the traditions are the same as in Poland, but there are some aspects that are clearly different. Holidays in Madeira are celebrated more as a reminder of the passion and death of Christ. It seems that the resurrection has a slightly lower significance there than in Poland.

Remember that Madeira and Portugal are to a large extent Catholic countries and Easter is an important event in the calendar of church holidays for the Catholic community of these countries. Walking through the streets of Madeira cities, however, we will not notice such commercialization of holidays, as is the case in Poland, for example. You can see the holidays in shop windows, in shopping center displays or in churches, but less than one would expect, comparing Easter to Christmas, for example.

Easter and the associated celebrations of Holy Week is a festival primarily experienced spiritually by believers and practitioners. Easter Sunday is an important day in the lives of many people, including many not even practicing. Almonds in chocolate or iced coatings, traditional Easter bread appears in most Madeira houses during Easter.

There are, however, several differences between Easter celebrations in Poland and Madeira. They start from Palm Sunday – when in Poland colorful palms dominate, often richly decorated and prepared with intricate accuracy, simple bouquets of palm leaves dominate in Madeira, and in Portugal, in some regions you can meet the custom of hanging crosses on the doors of houses decorated olive branches or palm leaves.
Good Friday is traditionally a day off, unlike in Poland (a traditional Good Friday procession takes place in Funchal – it leads from the former Jesuit church to the cathedral). On the other hand, Maderians go to work on Monday, after Easter, when we can enjoy a day off in Poland. Accordingly, there is no custom of whiskers-dyngus and the associated pouring water.
On Easter Sunday it is very popular to visit homes by a priest or pastor of a local parish. During such a visit, the priest exchanges a few words with the household and receives a gift. The Easter breakfast itself is converted into a family lunch, which acts as a family meeting and can often be extended significantly.

What about blessing food? This custom is also very little known in Madeira and if it occurs, it is celebrated most often by the international communities inhabiting this island. In contrast, in Portugal, in some regions remained alive until today. “Burial of cod”. This tradition consists in baking and eating the largest piece of cod that we can buy in the store, and then gathering all the bones and burying them in the ground, and this symbol has the end of fasting, end of sacrifices.

Aleksandra Lelenthal
Volunteer at Teatro Metaphora – Associação de Amigos das Artes
European Solidarity Corps
To know more: https://europa.eu/youth/solidarity_en

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