Agnusekor Maślany baranek wielkanocny, as is butter lamb in Polish, and all the symbolism behind it, actually came from the pagan times when people celebrated the change from winter to summer.
As Catholic Easter falls during the early spring, some of the pagan customs transferred to Catholic traditions, as part of the agreement to make the transition into the new faith as smooth as possible.
Lambs, born in spring, have been (unfortunately) used as giving to the gods in pagan customs. They also serve as a metaphor for the people of Christ in Catholicism (as in Christ being the Shepherd and his people being his lambs), and they are seen as a reminder of Christ’s love and his sacrifice. It was only natural to transfer this symbol from one way of living to another.
Easter, being one of the most important celebrations in Christianity, is filled with different traditions. And so, as a part of Polish Easter traditions, people create a basket filled with food called Święconka, to take with them to the Easter mass on Easter morning to be blessed. This food is the first to be eaten on that day and the table where breakfast is served comes beautifully decorated.
An almost mandatory Polish Easter decoration involves a figure of a lamb. And so, there you have it - today you will find butter shaped like a lamb, sugar shaped like a lamb, chocolate shaped like a lamb, porcelain or clay figures shaped like a lamb… A whole Polish butter lamb tradition.
Though homemade butter lamb was the norm in the past, today you can buy it in shops when Easter preparations begin. This has even led to the fact that butter lambs are more often replaced by other types of baranek wielkanocny so you can preserve it for longer.
Finding Polish butter lambs in stores is not a difficult
mission - most Polish delis, some US supermarkets, and online shops will carry
those at Easter. There is even a famous Polish butter lamb producer called
Malczewski’s Butter Lambs (and probably many more), which can help you get your
hands on this beautiful decoration.
Yet we encourage you to try and make homemade butter lamb
a try. In case you don’t get your hands on a wooden Polish butter lamb mold,
which does make things easier, you can always play with butter as if it were
clay - or PlayDoh.
Tamara Bosak Djordjevic
Butter lamb mold
Butter according to the mold (about 100 grams)
Decoration to your liking (leaves, peppercorns or seeds, a red ribbon)
Let butter sit at room temperature until it becomes soft and easy to mold.
Put the butter in the Polish butter Easter mold and press it down to create the shape of a lamb.
Take it out and let it sit on an easy-to-clean surface (like baking paper).
Decorate it and display, far from the source of heat!
Do you have a butter lamb for Easter? Or will
you include it now that you know how to make it? Either way, we encourage you
to create your own butter lamb tradition.
And do tell us: Would you like us to create a Polish butter
lamb T-shirt for our shop? What would you write on it?