Utica Public Library hosts butter lamb-making workshops for Easter
UTICA — The Utica Public Library hosted butter lamb workshops on Saturday, March 25, to celebrate the upcoming Easter holiday and share Polish Catholic traditions. The annual workshop was led by Janice Lyszczarz.
At two long, blue-clothed tables, small groups of people use plastic knives, toothpicks, and their fingers to shape sticks of butter into lambs. The lambs have black peppercorns for eyes and red ribbons around their necks. They lie on fake grass and are surrounded by jelly beans.
As people tried to shape their butter into the shape of a lamb, many could be heard telling their friends, "This is fun!" and laughing at their lamb's lopsided ears or misshapen head.
Lyszczarz used to work in the library's children’s room, where she created the workshop for children. The library then asked her to also lead a session for adults. She said that she has been running the workshop for so long that she can't remember when it began.
Lyszczarz and her sisters started making butter lambs with one pound of butter at first. Later, she made smaller, more detailed butter lambs to give as gifts. "Growing up, we always had a butter lamb at Easter," she said.
Lyszczarz is part of the parish at the Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Utica. On Holy Saturday, the day before Easter, the parish holds the Blessing of the Food, where Swieconka, or Easter baskets, are brought to church to be blessed.
Lyszczarz said the focal point of the event is a lamb made out of butter, bread or sugar.
This year, the church iis hosting Blessings of the Food at 9 a.m. in the church, and at noon and 2 p.m. in the school gym, on Saturday, April 8. The church is at 1206 Lincoln Ave., Utica.
The butter lamb is a butter sculpture that typically accompanies the Easter meal for slavic Catholic families. The lamb is symbolic of Jesus, who is the Lamb of God. It represents new life, as Easter celebrates Jesus’ resurrection. The butter signifies the goodness and richness that returned to the world after Jesus was brought back to life. The red ribbon that is tied around the butter lamb’s neck represents the blood of Christ, and the flag that is on the lamb’s back symbolizes Jesus’ victory over death. The flag can be red or white and often has a cross or the word Alleluia or Aleluja in Polish, on it.
"They’re a lot of fun, I really enjoy doing them, people really enjoy doing them," Lyszczarz said. "People laugh that theirs may not look like a lamb, and mine might not either, but it’s the thought that counts."
"I love sharing this tradition, and I think the more we can share each other’s traditions, the richer we become," she added.
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