Easter is a spring festival if ever there was one, and it still seems strange to me to celebrate it in autumn. To me, Easter time means hot cross buns, decorating eggs and then on Easter Sunday, egg rolling. We didn’t do that whole hunting for eggs thing when I was a child as I guess as it was something that neither of my parents had done as children. We got our chocolate eggs and other treats in cardboard eggs, which were always made in Germany and had pictures of chickens and rabbits dressed up in their Sunday best. Even as a child I was not a big chocolate lover, and although I liked getting chocolate eggs (especially the tiny ones, nestling in the cardboard egg), my mother usually ate my share. I didn’t even notice, and only found out this happened when my mother told me as an adult.
Anyway, one tradition that I can enjoy again now I am in New Zealand, is the hot cross bun, that indulgent post Easter fast treat. We had some for Good Friday breakfast.
Hot cross buns from Pandoro
A toasted hot cross bun
Another tradition is of course decorating eggs. For many years I used German egg dye that came in small packets, but now I usually use onion skins which can give wonderful swirls and patterns. Of course, you really need to find white eggs for this, and tie the skins onto the eggs, as otherwise you end up with ones that look like this:
Eggs with a suntan
We always tried to do egg rolling, but as the weather was usually not so good, we often had an indoor competition, organised by my mother. Cushions were placed around any furniture legs which could damage the eggs. We then rolled them into the demarcated area, with the intention of damaging the oppositions’ eggs and not your own. The victor from this round then had to stand and drop their egg to smash the shell. I always had a red egg with white spots, which was based on an Easter card we received from Poland one year, with a little girl reaching for some decorated eggs, one of which was red with white spots. I have no idea where this competition came from, but it was a highlight of Easter Sunday when I was a child.
My husband, being Swedish, has other traditions. In Sweden, birch twigs are decorated with feathers, a bit like the German tradition of decorated twigs at Easter. I will not show you my pathetic version, based on a twig found on the terrace, and which is definitely only for family viewing. One thing that always struck me as strange when visiting Sweden at this time of year was seeing little girls dressed up as witches, usually with an apron, headscarf, rosy cheeks and freckles on Maundy Thursday. Apparently, all the world’s bad spirits were let loose the instant Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus. They gathered on the island of Blåkulla in the Kalmar Strait, which I have seen when visiting my husband’s home town of Kalmar on the east coast of Sweden. How this has transposed itself into the current cute little witches is not really known, but it seems it started in western Sweden some time in the 19th century.
However and whenever (12th April in the Orthodox church) you are going to celebrate, have a happy Easter.