The biggest Easter food basket blessing of the world is held each year in the Székely town named Csíkszereda/Miercurea Ciuc. On Easter Sunday thousands of people (last year for example more than 7,000) are waiting at the town’s main square in ordered lines for the Roman Catholic priests to bless their food in their baskets covered with ornate tablecloths.
More than 7000 believers at the Easter Food Basket Blessing in Csíkszereda in 2018 (Photo: Imre Gegő)
In the Middle Ages the tradition of food blessing used to be practiced in every Catholic province, but nowadays it is not that common anymore. However Székelyföld is one of the few regions left (similar to Poland) where the tradition – of putting egg, lamb meet, ham, Easter bread and salt into the basket – still lives on. According to the faith of the Catholics, eating of the blessed food after their long fasting protects them from intemperance. At the end of Lent, in the morning of Easter Sunday people confess – so they can purify spiritually as wel l- then after their Holy Communion the priest blesses the foods in their baskets. And finally following the mass the family eats the sanctified food at home.
“In the beginning of the 1980’s, early morning, after the first mass the people were standing in lines on the sidewalks of both the main street and the side streets around the church and we were walking among them to sanctify their foods. From the second part of the ‘80’s authorities did not permit this anymore, so we had to do it inside the St. Cross Church and the nearby plank church.” -told vicar of Csíkszereda, József Darvas-Kozma last year to Erdélyi Napló. The tradition then stepped up to a new level in the XXI. century: “In 2001, we held the mass in the Trade Union Cultural Center and the food blessing took place outside, on the main square. This was so successful, that since then we don’t do the sanctification at the end of the mess, but instead we do it separately in the morning outside on the square.”
Easter food basket blessing in Csíkszereda in 2016. (Video: Facebook Székely TV)
Believers keep standing in lines patiently with their baskets placed front of them on the ground, while eight-nine priests walk between the rows sprinkling the foods with Holy Water. “I’m happy that it turned into an ecumenical liturgy, as also our Protestant brothers bring their food to get sanctified and we pray together. At the end of the event the community sings together our national pray, and the Székely anthem”-told the vicar.
Last year believers were standing in 22 row, with about 350 souls in each, which meant more than 7000 people altogether. Many of these people also put on their traditional Székely costumes for the event, and not only adults but youngsters and little children participate as well. The little girls have their own baskets, and the priests commend them separately, and talk with them directly. It is important because they are the ones who are going to play the important role in the Easter food basket blessings of the forthcoming decades.
Title Image: The biggest Easter Food Basket Blessing of the World in Csíkszereda in 2018 (Photo: MTI)