paschal food baskets atop the communion rail
ŚwięconkaFather Eric Orzech of St. Casimir's reads the prayers and symbolism of the food blessing, and its meanings. The lenten fast will all end with an Paschal feast. Some foods had been 'given up' for a time, now they will be enjoyed. Several have allegorical, and didactic meanings: the egg tells of life emerging from a tomb, horseradish echoes the bitterness we eat of in life, and so on...the unintentionally funny line has to be "Blessing the cheeses, and the other dairy...".
Christianity, and people's understanding of it are appreciated through the senses, and smell, and taste are part of the senses. Food is communal. In Cleveland, parish communities were unjustly forbidden to meet for two, three years. These parishes had no Masses, no food to bless, until Rome listened to the pleas of the people. The community celebrates again.
after the baskets were splashed with holy water, they are incensed
One can have what ever one wishes in the basket, and different national and religious preferences are welcomed, in addition to some items of religious allusions. Sometimes, an item is in the form of the paschal lamb (cake, bread, chocolate, butter), if lamb flesh itself is absent. Bread and wine were had at the Passover meal, and at the Divine Liturgies. We have pork, usually in ham and sausages. Pork was forbidden in the Old Dispensation it is permitted in the New, if they are links, they represent the chains of slavery and death, that have been broken.