Hi, Anne here, at the beginning of Easter. I've always enjoyed Easter. Here it's a public holiday, a four day "weekend" when most shops and businesses close down and many people hit the road on Thursday afternoon and hope for a last burst of warm weather. It's traditionally a family time, and it usually starts with hot cross buns on Friday morning. Mostly I buy them from the supermarket and heat them up, but there's nothing better than hot, home- baked buns fresh from the oven, so here's a recipe for hot cross buns from the wonderful Delia Smith.
Sunday's the next most important day and whether you go to church or have an Easter egg hunt for the kids (or both) many families get together on the Sunday for a big roast dinner.
Often, during my childhood, Easter was a time for barbecues in the bush. Dad disdained special equipment for barbecues — a piece of tin and a box of matches was all we needed, apart from food. We kids would be sent scouring the bush for wood and we'd build a rough semicircle with river stones and get a fire going while Mum and my godmother and various other Easter regular visitors would butter bread or slice tomatoes. Then we'd cook sausages and lamb chops, washed down with tea for the adults and cold water straight from the stream for us. All very simple, but a veritable feast to us kids — there's something about cooking and eating out of doors, isn't there? This is the river along which many of those barbecues were held — beautiful, isn't it? If you want to read a little more detail about those barbecues, go here.
Another Easter ritual in my family was the reading of The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, by Dubose Heyward, illustrated by Marjorie Flack. I still have my copy. It's a lovely story with beautiful illustrations and I'm delighted to see it's still in print today.
I've also enjoyed Orthodox Easter celebrations, both overseas and in Australia. I remember long, chilly, midnight services, and then the moment when the candle-flame is passed from person to person and it's utterly beautiful in its simplicity. I love the cracking of the red eggs and all the delicious food that follows, though not the lamb's innards soup — it's an acquired taste, I'm told ;)
I also adore eggs of all sorts, especially chocolate ones. When I was a kid we started the Sunday at crack of dawn with an Easter egg hunt, but we weren't supposed to eat them until after church. I can tell you, there was much furtive crackling of foil during Sunday school ;)
Then there are the intricately decorated eggs. My schoolfriend Nadija, who's of Ukrainian background, used to make the most beautiful eggs, painstakingly waxed and dipped in dye and rewaxed and dipped.
And look at these brilliant eggs, made by Danish egg carver, Franc Grom,
who drills away the shell to make the most beautiful delicate designs. Read more about his creations here.
If Easter is wet, kids can get very bored, so here are a few craft activities that might help. Here's a site that gives some lovely, simple ideas for decorating eggs at home, including the use of natural dyes from your garden and kitchen.
Pop-up cards are easier to make than you think. Here's a good tutorial.
And try an Easter bunny pop-up card. This site has some amazing designs, so it's a great activity for all ages.
Danish papercrafter, Margit Ammentorp has some beautiful paper basket patterns that she very generously shares. Here are some simple print-off-and-cut-out ones for children.
Try making Danish woven paper hearts. They're perfect for putting a few little eggs in. Looks complicated but isn't. Here are some more Danish heart designs from Margit Ammentorp. I made these from her printable designs. Click on the link for the pattern for the robins, the pandas or the poppies.
So, what will you be doing this Easter? And do you have any special memories of Easters from your childhood. Any special recipes or crafts? And if you don't celebrate Easter, what do you celebrate around this time of year?