The Broadway Market is closed this Sunday for Easter, but Western New Yorkers flocked to that place over the last week to make sure they have an important Easter staple on their table for the holiday.
“It’s just tradition. You’ve gotta come up here and get the butter lamb,” said Westfield resident Georgianna Timmerman as she bought a butter lamb Thursday morning.
“It wouldn’t be Easter without it,” she said.
A lot of people in Western New York seem to agree with her.
Every year, Malczewski’s makes and sells about 100,000 of the meaningful Easter icons.
“The religious symbol of the lamb is the Lamb of God in the Eucharist. The red ribbon is the traditional color that we use to represent the blood of Christ. There’s the red Alleluia flag and the peppercorn eyes, so it’s a very religious symbol,” explained Adam Cichocki, a part-owner of Malczewski Butter Lambs and Camellia Meats.
Butter lambs started in Poland but have become a Buffalo tradition over the years.
“Dorothy Malczewski started the tradition right here in the Broadway Market several decades ago and it kind of took off over time,” Cihocki said.
Now, the butter lambs are sold in stores throughout the Northeast and down the East coast, giving Western New York natives who are living out of state a little taste of home around Easter.
“They’ll email me a paragraph about how they found a butter lamb in Virginia and it made their whole entire Easter,” Cihocki told News 4.
Of course, some of the sizes of the butter lambs are only available at the Broadway Market.
The Malczewski crews start making them them months before Easter, going through about 40,000 pounds or so of butter each year.
“It’s kind of a top secret operation but we do make them with a mold, and then the fancier ones are hand curled,” Cihocki said. “All of them are handmade, but some of them take more time than the others.”
Big or small, butter lambs have been known to cause conflict around the Easter dinner table for some families. The question is: Where to do you start slicing, the head or the tail?
“The kids fight over that,” Timmerman told News 4. “Our son likes the end of the lamb and the daughter likes the head.”
“Some of the kids like to take the head off right away, but there’s really no rhyme or reason. It’s there for the taking,” Cihocki added.
Still, in the spirit of the peaceful holiday season, some customers are very diplomatic about the right way to dig into a butter lamb: “Whoever starts it can start it wherever they want,” Orchard Park resident Ellie Grieco advised.
If you didn’t get your butter lamb before Easter, you may have trouble finding one until next year. Most years, Malczewski’s sells out of butter lambs on Good Friday or the Saturday before Easter.