Easter

Anne here, and I’m thinking of the approach of Easter. I know not everyone celebrates it, and that now is also a difficult time in the world to celebrate anything, but still, we also need to focus on small things to cheer us up, and that’s what I hope to do. (On the right are carved hens’ eggs by craftsman Wen Fuliang)

For people in the Northern Hemisphere, Easter is a spring festival. In fact, in places like Britain and other countries where pagan religions ruled, the early fathers of the Christian church grafted Easter onto the local Spring festivities in order to convince the people to go with Christianity without having to give up their traditional spring celebrations. And thus the association of Easter with eggs, chickens, rabbits and other symbols of fertility.

 

 

 

 

My mother, who was an infant teacher, always used to organize an Easter Bonnet Parade, but some parents invariably refused to let their children participate because of the pagan associations, which clashed with their religious view of Easter. I also remember when we were in Scotland when I was a child, Mum was shocked that shops were open on Good Friday. So Easter means different things to different people.

I also remember Greek Easter celebrations, standing in the cold and dark outside a midnight church service, and then the passing of the flame, from candle to candle, lighting up the night as people murmur in Greek, “Christ is risen.” It’s a beautiful and very touching ceremony.

For those of us in the southern hemisphere, Easter occurs during autumn, and in my corner of the world, the days are usually warm and sunny and the nights cool. As well, the schools schedule a 2 week holiday that encompasses the Easter public holidays (Good Friday and Easter Monday), and many people try to go away, and lap up the last of the warm weather before winter.

For many people, Easter is as much about the food as anything. Hot cross buns, chocolate eggs, dyed and patterned eggs. Family get-togethers. I love hot cross buns. (I once read a book where people were talking about “cross buns” — nope, we always call them hot cross buns, even when they’re cold.) And they’re best spread with butter, not margarine, only make sure the butter is softened, unlike mine, above.

Because it’s autumn here, there’s a harvest festival mood, picking figs and pears and apples and toasting chestnuts and cracking walnuts. When I was a child we lived in the north-east of the state, and spent Easter in the foothills of the mountains, where there were gorgeous splashes of autumn color in golds and reds against the subtler shades of the native bush. We’d have barbecues in the bush, and if the weather turned wet and cool, we’d wait a few days, then go out and pick wild field mushrooms. If you’d like to read more about my childhood Easters click on this link. 

These pysanky eggs were a gift from a friend, and as I put them out on my buffet, I think of the people of the Ukraine, and their suffering. I decided this year not to buy chocolate eggs and instead sent a donation to Ukrainian relief and also to Gaza relief.

 

 

One egg-shaped thing I do buy at this time of year is bulbs. I often give friends bulbs — tulips, daffodils, bluebells, snowdrops, freesias (I love the old-fashioned cream ones that have the best smell.) Plant them now and they’ll bloom in spring.

A couple of years ago, the wenches reminisced about their memories of Easter. It’s rather a lovely post and you can read it here.

What about you? What do you do around this time of year? Do you have any family rituals or routines? Any special food? Bulbs coming into flower?

19 thoughts on “Easter”

  1. First thing on Easter morning would be Easter Mass, which always seemed longer because of the goodies that were waiting at home. And of course, every Easter we would have a new outfit to wear or we would wear our very best duds.

    Afternoon meal would be a family gathering where the star of the meal was a beg juicy baked ham with a cherry pineapple glaze. But first things first. When we came home from church there would be an Easter egg hunt for the kids. In my day we would search for dyed hard boiled eggs that had been hidden. Nowadays the eggs are plastic with coins or candy inside. There are no small kids right now, but the teens and preteens still like to hide the eggs and find them.

    Lovely post – took me down memory lane again.

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    • Thanks for sharing those memories, Mary. We also came home from church to a big roast dinner, only in our case it was a leg of lamb with baked vegies. I can’t recall whether the easter egg hunt was before or after church, probably after. But they were always chocolate eggs. I remember one Easter when I was about eight, and my older siblings came home for Easter, and they must all have added eggs to the hunt, because a month or two later a deciduous vine growing against the house revealed several more shiny foil-covered chocolate eggs. That I’m sure the kid next door and I decided were still edible. But I van’t imagine plastic Easter eggs — I’ve never seen them here, except for the little German (I think) ones that are on sale all year round.

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  2. What a lovely post on so many levels, Anne! We dye eggs because it’s fun, and we used to have lovely eggs hand decorated by the Mayhem Consultant’s Lithuanian father. As you say, in a challenging world it’s good to celebrate in ways that may be small but have deep historical roots.

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    • Thanks, Mary Jo. When I was still teaching, I’d get given lots of red dyed eggs because we had a large Greek population. I’ve only done it myself a few times. I tend to bake Easter biscuits (cookies) as gifts. I’m not very good at the decoration aspect yet, but they taste fine.
      And yes, it’s a grim time for a lot of people, and we do need to remind ourselves to enjpy what we can.

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  3. I have always loved midnight Mass on Easter. It’s a long service, very dramatic, with magnificent music. I remember once, when I lived in NYC, walking home after Mass at 2 am, and the streets were full of people. There were even a couple of kids playing ball. It really is the city that never sleeps.

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  4. Thank you, Anne, for this very uplifting post about Easter. I remember more of a celebration in school making Easter cards than a big celebration at home.

    It was a fun time with the beautiful pastel-colored eggs.

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  5. Of course I remember Easter Mass, the new outfit, finding our hidden Easter baskets filled with candy & eggs, maybe a toy, family dinner…. The usual. We continued the traditions with our kids. One of my favorite memories is when I was in college at University of WI-Madison and sang with a guitar group every Sunday & Holy Days. The music of Jesus Christ Superstar was still really popular & we did an abridged version of it to fit with the Easter story of the Mass. Talk about a captive audience. Lol.

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  6. I associate Easter with spring flowers, like daffodils, so it would be very disorienting to have Easter in the autumn.
    Our family was not religiously observant at all, in fact my mother was Jewish by birth, but for some reason she took part in some secular Easter traditions. I remember having Easter baskets with candy, dying eggs and having Easter egg hunts in our backyard with the neighborhood kids. She also enjoyed dressing up on Easter Sunday, when we would go to New York City and join a sort of informal Easter parade on 5th Avenue. All the women and girls would promenade on the street, which was closed to traffic for the day, wearing their most extravagant hats and beautiful outfits. It’s a traditional but not formally organized event that still takes place every year.

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    • Thanks, Karin. I think in these multicultural days, a lot of people celebrate all kinds of things that aren’t part of whatever religion they grew up with. I love it.
      I also love the idea of the informal Easter bonnet parade.

      As for the disorientation of Easter happening in autumn, most people from the northern hemisphere do find it hard to adjust at first. Christmas in 90+ degree heat (35C) is even weirder for them. But we all adjust in the end, and learn to make the most of what we have instead of what we don’t. And Easters filled with golden sunshine makes up for a lot..

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  7. When my family was with me, Easter was ham and potato salad and a fruit salad for a meal. There was an egg hunt when my children were little and going to church in new outfits….always patent leather shoes for my girls. And isn’t it sad that hats are no longer as popular for ladies? Thank you very much for all the lovely memories and all the reminders of what is truly beautiful about the celebration of Easter.

    I hope everyone has the type of celebration that brings them joy.

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    • Oh, I remember those shiny patent leather shoes. Weren’t they special — even if they did pinch your feet at first. And yes, it is sad that women don’t wear hats as often as they used to. I love hats and I have quite a few — but I never wear them for everyday wear — only for some kind of dressing up costume event.

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  8. What a lovely post, Anne! The carved eggs and the pysanky eggs were both wonderful to see.
    I don’t recall how we celebrated Easter as a child other than that it included chocolate eggs and perhaps a chocolate bunny. We would set up egg hunts for my daughter when she was young and have hints in the eggs that would lead her to a basket. She just visited from South Korea and, on her departure, we found a gift bag each for my husband and me from the Easter bunny. What fun!

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  9. I have read that in Ancient Egypt during the spring festival parents would give carved and painted wooden eggs to their children; this was the festival at which they’d explain where babies came from.

    My only remaining Easter tradition is dinner with my two remaining family members who are local, but we’re putting it off until next Sunday (April 7) because the weather wizards claim it’s going to rain like Noah’s flood in LA this weekend.

    Back in the day we didn’t attend any church services; my father was one denomination and my mother was another and neither attended church regularly. But Easter was still important, a family thing. My mom would host an Easter Sunday dinner and we would have ham and a big Easter cake with white coconut frosting and chocolate bunnies and See’s eggs for all. In those days See’s Candies still made the platoon size one pound rocky road egg that takes a week to finish. We still get an egg every Easter but it’s one of their more delicate ones now. We dyed eggs too and had hard boiled eggs for days until we were all heartily sick of them.

    Since I now forego the chocolate orgies, my own custom is to put out some bunnies and walking chicks and try to get the last of the Christmas decorations back in their boxes.

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    • Thanks, Janice — I’m chuckling at your putting away the last of the Christmas decorations. I bet you’re not the only one.
      I also understand the glut of dyed, hard-boiled eggs. I used to get that when I was a teacher with a large population of Greek-background students — red eggs for ages. Fortunately I love eggs, and found lots of ways to use them, kedgeree being one.
      I hope your family easter get-together is a pleasant one.

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      • The weather people overestimated. It may have rained like man elsewhere, but not here. It’s a beautiful day outside with white puffy clouds and blue skies. Pfui. Next weekend it will probably rain like mad.

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