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.



  1. Avatar
    Janet Green April 25, 2019 at 6:53 am - Reply

    Hi Sister Fran. Thank you for sharing your family tradition with me. I grew up in Brooklyn NY to first generation Italian immigrants. I went to college inOswegoNY. I wish more people would carry on their families traditions. They seem to be disappearing. The world is a different place now. Thank God for the Sisters who live by the will of God and not this world. Keep posting I love it.
    My email is janetannegreen@ gmail.com
    Say hello to all the Sisters for me.

  2. Avatar
    Sister Fran April 25, 2019 at 8:57 am - Reply

    Thanks, Janet, for you response to the Butter Lamb story. I love the traditions of many cultures. Blessings, Sister Fran

Leave A Comment