I love Easter! In Melbourne it’s an autumn festival teetering on the edge on winter and with just the right amount of sunshine to encourage us outdoors. In the UK where I grew up, its spring and buds burst into life and a new energy is born. With 2.2billion Christians in the world there’ll be some celebrating Easter’s religious significance. For others its family time and a good 4-5 day holiday.
What are you doing this Easter? How will you enjoy this time? Some of you will be working. Some painting the house or caring for loved ones and others will be planning a camping trip or family get together.
When you think of Easter what comes to mind? Fluffy bunnies and overpriced chocolate bunnies? Easter egg hunts and a table decorated for Easter Sunday lunch? What are you memories of Easter as a child?
Easter was a time when mum decorated the dining room with vases full of Easter daisies and pussy willows that we collected along the canal bank. On Easter Saturday the family gathered for the egg painting competition. We coloured the eggs with food dyes and sometimes onion skins. We painted them and arranged them in a bowl next to the pussy willows. My dad always won the Easter egg art competition. He was a fine artist. We didn’t mind because we looked forward to what he would create that year. My favourite was a farm scene circling the egg with bunnies running around the egg as sheep and cows looked on. Fine intricate drawings on egg art!
Family visited on Easter Sunday. In this Latvian family we didn’t have an Easter egg hunt but we did eat the real eggs with anchovies and rye bread. There was also another boiled egg smashing competition. Tapping each other’s eggs at each end, one egg would always break and the other declared victorious! A sort of eggy Olympics. We dressed in our best frocks for ester Sunday lunch. My mum made us one new best frock a year. Her colour palette was somewhat limited. My sister had a red frock and I had a blue frock. These colours were reversed for the next year’s new special occasion wear. This went on for years! There were lots of rich, sublime hazelnut torte and black forest cake enjoyed by “continentals.” As I grew older I craved to be more English and learned how to make Simnel cake in the domestic science class at school. Simnel cake is a kind of simple fruit cake eaten before and during Easter. See the 1976 video below. It’s hilarious.
Sunday lunch was always smoked eels caught in the canal and smoked by dad. Sauerkraut was made by mum and stored in barrels in the shed. There would be roast chicken c/o the chicken farmer who we bought our eggs from. Gherkins, potato salad and a type of terrine made from jellied pigs head, rollmops and rye bread and home grown vegetables, when available. Our gut health must have been marvellous but the vodka probably spoiled the mix! An afternoon nap or a game of chess and a brisk walk through the village completed the Easter Sunday festivities. In the evening I’d go to church to meet my friends. It was the hub of social life in downtown Derbyshire!
What was Easter like in your childhood? Please share your stories and any recipes below.