> Butter Lambs

Butter Lambs


Story and photo by Sister Fran Gangloff

A butter lamb alongside a crocus plant adorns our family Easter dinner table.

A long-standing Easter tradition in western New York and elsewhere is the Butter Lamb, brought to the U.S. by immigrants from Russia, Poland, and Slovenia. Many families, including mine, continue the tradition.

People make their own, sculpting soft butter into the shape of a lamb. They add peppercorns for eyes and tie a red ribbon around the neck to symbolize the Blood of Jesus the Sacrificial Lamb. Some add a stick with a banner that says Alleluia!

Many people go to the Broadway Market in Buffalo, New York to buy their butter lambs.  Malczewski’s Butter Lamb – Baranek wielkanocny – at this market goes back many years as a Polish tradition started by the mother of the Malczewski family. Many local food stores also carry this Easter symbol, and Buffalo Foods ships the lambs anywhere in the country.

Some parishes hold butter making classes along with egg dying and palm weaving sessions.

Our family Easter dinner, hosted by a Polish great-grandmother, always has a butter lamb on the dinner table.

In another art form, I have used yellow yarn to crochet a butter lamb and attached it to a green base that resembles grass. I used small buttons for eyes and a skewer stick to hold an Alleluia flag. You can find crocheted Butter Lambs similar to mine at etsy.com.

And yet another form that I remember from early grade school is a butter lamb which we drew on a piece of paper. We used a safety pin to poke holes through the paper from the back to give the lamb a wooly appearance. This pin pricking also works on paper images of the Paschal Lamb.