Children and adults attend workshops presenting folk Easter traditions to modern Poles
As Poles begin the Easter preparations, the Opole Museum for Rural Life in the south of the country has turned back the hands of time in the runup to the Catholic holiday.
The museum is now offering workshops for children and adults, teaching the art of making Easter decorations using methods applied centuries ago in a process that was an important part of celebrating the holidays in rural Poland.
Young visitors could test their skills at painting eggs or making figures of Easter bunnies while the older, and more patient, visitors can learn to paint intricate patterns on eggs using wax.
"In the past, let's say 100, 50 years ago, the decorated eggs were monochrome. They were in the colour of the eggshell and in the colour of a natural dye, because back then there was no access to chemical paints as there is today. For colouring they would have used oak bark, the root of mallow, onion peel, or rye which grew in the fields", folk artist Helena Wojtasik says.
In the poorer rural areas decorated eggs were also one of the few gifts a family could afford. Their decoration hasn since developed into an art form. Polish traditions are closely linked with Catholic rituals and the egg was an important symbol of rebirth and new beginnings.
All dishes and food previously prepared by housewives were taken to the church to be blessed before the Easter Sunday meal. This tradition, which is also kept in Ukraine and Belarus, survived in many Polish homes.
"The egg plays an important role among these foods. This egg was shared by the host, the head of the family, the father with all the members of the family and it was such a sign of peace, a kind of forgiveness of all hurts, misunderstandings. It starts everything over", ethnographer Elzbieta Oficjalska says.
The open air museum in Opole organises events promoting traditional crafts in order to preserve them in their genuine form.
"The customs and traditions cultivated by our grandparents and great-grandparents are ideal for presenting here. Of course supermarkets also try to show how this folk culture once looked like, but in our environment it is simply genuine", head of education department at Opole region Museum of Rural Life Ewa Olbryt says.
Easter will be celebrated in Poland this coming weekend.