Thursday, April 12, 2012

Easter in Poland

While much of the U.S. enjoyed a mild winter and an unusually warm spring so far, Poland and much of Europe have remained chilly, and this follows a brutally frigid February.  March provided about a week of spring-like temperatures, but we've returned to a pattern characterized by overcast skies, low temperatures and stiff breezes.  Nevertheless, there are hopeful signs of emerging spring, and everyone here is most anxious to shed the winter coats and gloves.

Easter Celebrations

Easter is an extremely important period in Poland in keeping with its rich Catholic heritage and the strong tradition of faith that defines and shapes its culture.  The two central focuses at this season are church and family.  The many churches in Poznan, overwhelmingly Roman Catholic, offer multiple services/masses on Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and, of course, Easter Sunday.  Additionally, concerts of sacred music occur in many places of worship and other venues throughout the season.  On Easter Saturday, people here in Poznan and elsewhere in Poland visit their churhes, bringing baskets of items representing food they will serve at family gatherings on Sunday.  Each item in the basket -- sausage, bread, juice, eggs, and other items -- symbolizes some aspect of Jesus' death and resurrection.  Families bring these baskets to the priests to be blessed in preparation for the meal the following day. 

A family arrives at the local church with its basket of food
to be blessed by their priest.

After the baskets are blessed, families return home to begin
preparation of festive meals that will be shared with
extended family members on Easter Sunday.
Since our arrival here in Poznan, Robin and I have particpated actively in a very interesting English-speaking congregation that meets Sunday mornings in one of the top hotels in the city (the manager, a German, is a member of the congregation).  The Poznan International Church (  is sponsored by a U.S.-based mission board as well as a Polish sister congregation.  Its primary focus is the extensive population of international students who come to Poznan for its excellent medical, dental, business and other universities.  Foreign business people working in Poland also constitute a segment of the congregation.  Poles seeking a more contemporary worship service also participate.  Consequently, a Sunday morning worship service with 75 people attending will likely represent 20-25 countries.  It is truly an amazing experience, and we've made some wonderful new friends with extraordinary backgrounds through our association with the church.  For example, we have enjoyed getting to know our first acquaintance from Turkmenistan!  We all have our faith in common, so cultural and other potential barriers quickly melt away.  Even the praise band, mostly medical students, represents several countries and continents.   
On Easter Sunday, members and visitors of the Poznan
International Church gather in a hotel conference room
for worship.  Families and individuals come from a host
 of countries and represent North America, South America,
Asia and Europe.

An international praise band, primarily medical students, leads
 the congregation in song.

Our Good Friday evening service was a combined event with our sponsoring Polish congregation.  Praise songs and prayers were bi-lingual, and the Polish pastor brought the evening's message, with a young Polish student providing the English translation.  On Easter Sunday afternoon, one of the families in church -- from India -- invited the congregation to a celebratory dinner at their home.  Around 40 people accepted the gracious invitation, each bringing a tasty dish to contribute to the sumptuous table.  With so many nations represented, you can imagine the variety of dishes. 
Church members from a host of nations mingle during the
Easter gathering at the home of one of the member families.

The hosts' daughter offers appetizers to the guests.
Not only were many countries represented, but all age groups
as well!

My wife, Robin (right), preparing a salad while visiting
with our new friend from Turkmenistan.
Other Signs of Spring

Despite cool temperatures, there are indications that we will soon turn the page.  A few days have brought some relief from the chill, and people here seize those opportunities. 

Some of the city's fountains have been turned back on after
a hard winter.  This one is in the Stary Rynek.

Youngsters, eager for better weather, have returned to the
playgrounds.  Interest in soccer, always the dominant sport
here, has become even more feverish as Poznan prepares
to host early matches of Euro 2012.
Grass is beginning to green, and the trees are on the verge
of leafing out.

On one recent pleasant day, Robin and I walked to the Stary Rynek (old market square) to view the striking of noon on the tower clock.  Each day at that time here in Poznan, a bugler stands on the tower balcony and sounds a plaintiff tune.  As the clock strikes, two mechanical goats emerge from the tower and butt each other 12 times before retreating.  This day was warm enough that a small crowd gathered, and I took a short video of the event, but I have not solved the technical barriers to adding a video clip to this blog -- still working it out.  In the meantime, here's a link to a shore YouTube video of the goats:  Incidentally, there are a fair number of nice videos of Poznan on YouTube; there's a link to one on a tab at the top of this blog.
Next week -- an update on our research project and related activities.

Do widzenia!


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  2. i see lots of Poland visa schemes.
    its really great for international student .
    i hope you will post more great information in future .

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