31 Jan Easter in Warsaw
I’m not religious. Not by any means. I celebrate Christmas, but mostly because it’s important to my family and we make it about spending time together. But for the last few years, especially, all other religious holidays have basically never cross my mind. And it seems like I’m never home for Easter lately. And when traveling it’s pretty easy to miss things like Easter. But in Warsaw it wasn’t easy to miss.
It was partly because I was with family, and though they didn’t make a huge deal out of it, I was still reminded by them of the day. And even if I wasn’t with family, I’m confident I would have known something was going on. I picture the city to be completely dead. No one was outside, no restaurants were open. It was like a ghost town.
I know it really wasn’t like that, no city could possibly be that dead, but it really was quiet and every restaurant around our hotel was closed.
We woke up really early and my mom and step-dad dragged us all to church. We’re not Catholic, and we barely go to church but we went. To three different churches. We sat in the back of the church and listened to Polish mass. The priest’s voice echoed in the stone walls and even in the back we heard him clearly, though no more understanding his words.
I watched as the people lined up in the center aisle to receive their communion. Even if I were Catholic I probably wouldn’t have lined up. It seemed wrong, like I was intruding on their party. So I was glad I didn’t have to decide. Not being Catholic made it pretty easy to sit back and just watch, instead of feeling guilty, for either not taking communion or for taking communion where I didn’t belong. I relieved being Catholic would probably cause a lot of anxiety, never knowing which decision was the best.
By the time we got out of the many churches, going to them all because we happened to be walking by as mass was just beginning and, for some reason, a different member of my family wanted to go in each of them “just for a look,” we wanted to eat. And we had a really hard time finding a place.
The only ones we found that were open was fast food, McDonalds, KFC. Places that were out of place next to the black and white banners hung on the sides of old buildings, showing kids or families in raggedy old-time clothes.
We finally found a a place open but it wasn’t exactly what we were hoping to eat on Easter, or in Poland. It was a British Pub. We weren’t complaining though. We were just glad to not eat at Subway. I had fish and chips and Guinness, something I later ate way too much in Ireland. We were at a round table surrounded by red phone booths, Union Jacks, and London taxis.
It wasn’t exactly Polish. And it wasn’t exactly a traditional Easter meal either. But no one seemed to mind. My grandma and grandpa, mom, stepdad, two sisters, and brother-in-law were just glad to be in Poland, glad to be together. Especially my mom, hating that I was living in Prague and so far from her.
And even though we’re not religious, and I’m even less so than they are, it was more than just Easter, celebrating it for the religious holiday. It was what we’d made other holidays into, a chance to be together, an excuse to spend time together without needing to rush somewhere else. And whether we spent that time at home in New York, at my sister’s in Baltimore, or at a British pub in Poland, we were together, and for that moment, where we were supposed to be. Having Easter in Warsaw.
Tell me about a time you spent a holiday away from home, or a time you found yourself in an unexpected place, in the comments below!