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The Easter basket blessing: What does each item represent?

The blessing of the Easter Basket is a long honored tradition for many for the Easter season.

The tradition, which according to the Diocese of Harrisburg, dates back to the early 12th century, is celebrated on Holy Saturday around the lunchtime hour and carries several symbolic items that represent the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Baskets are prepared and brought to church, where they are blessed by the priest.

But what do the items in the basket symbolize?

The mixture of meats, eggs, breads and other foods are a celebration of the Resurrection of Jesus after 40 days of Lenten sacrifice.

Baskets are typically lined with a white cloth and decorated with ribbons, flowers, and greenery to symbolize spring, renewal, and the Resurrection.

According to St. Joseph Parish of the Panther Valley in Summit Hill, items that most include in their basket are:

• Pascha or Paska:

A classic Easter bread that is rich in eggs and butter. This bread represents Christ, the true bread.

• Ham:

The flesh meat popular with the Slavs as the main dish because of its richness and symbolism of the great joy and abundance of Easter.

• Sausage or kielbasa:

Spiced meat that represents God’s generosity, as well as the chains of death that were broken when Jesus rose from the dead.

• Colored hard-boiled eggs:

These are symbols of new life and resurrection.

• Horseradish:

This bitter and sweet garnish represents the Passion of Christ and his resurrection.

• Cheeses and dairy:

Cheeses and butter that has typically been shaped into a lamb or cross reminds us of the goodness we have toward all things.

• Bacon:

With its great fattiness, it is a symbol of the overabundance of God’s mercy and generosity

• Salt:

A flavoring that reminds Christians of their duty to others.

• Pastries and candies:

These sweet items promise of eternal life or good things to come.

• Linen cover:

The symbolism of the shroud in which Christ’s body was wrapped.

Other foods and items contained in a family basket can also be personalized to include any foods “given up” for Lent.

A previous Blessing of the Baskets at St. Joseph Parish of the Panther Valley in Summit Hill. AMY MILLER/TIMES NEWS