2020 will go down as the year we stayed home. After a rocky start to the year with bushfires and then floods, staying at home and social distancing are becoming the way we live life. We are becoming accustomed to working, studying and doing business online. We keep in touch with family and friends via email, phone and social media, and that is okay, until we hit an important family celebration, like Easter. No camping trips. No interstate visits. No getting together with extended family. We are all having a quiet Easter. But that doesn’t mean we need to forego all of our traditions.
Hot Cross Buns and Easter eggs are of course a long tradition in our house but I refuse to buy hot cross buns until just before Easter. It kind of annoys me when I see hot cross buns in the stores straight after New Year. I really dislike the way cultural and religious traditions are exploited to foster rampant consumerism. We are hardly over one celebration and the stores are gearing up for the next! We love hot cross buns, even the chocolate ones, but they are a special treat just for our Easter celebration. It is the same for Easter eggs – not until Sunday morning!
In the lead up to Easter last year, I was reflecting on the difference between the way we celebrate Christmas and the way we celebrate Easter. At Christmas we seem to go all out with food, decorations and gifts, but when it comes to Easter our celebrations are often much more low key, apart from the chocolate splurges. So I wondered if there were some ancient traditions back in our ancestry that could do with a revival.
We have a mix of German, English and Danish ancestry and after a little bit of research I learned some new words like Grundonnerstag (Maundy Thursday), Karfreitag (Good Friday) and Ostersonntag (Easter Sunday). I found some different kinds of german cakes and breads, but I’m not really much of a baker. I thought the Danish idea of sending fool’s letters (Gaekkebrev) sounded like fun – but how to make them anonymous when the envelopes will be postmarked with Toowoomba? Interestingly, the danish word for Easter is Paske – I think.
The tradition which showed the most promise was the German tradition of an Osterstrauss (Easter tree). You decorate easter eggs and hang them on a tree – really just some branches in a jar. Since Easter is actually in Spring in Europe, their branches have blossom buds on them. Considering that Easter is in Autumn here, that wasn’t really going to be an option for us. I initially thought we could use some Autumn branches but then I found the perfect thing in Spotlight – an Easter tree.
Decorating easter eggs isn’t something I had ever really done with the kids but we thought we would give it a go. There are lots of very interesting ways of decorating eggs but the one that really caught our eye was marbling eggs with … nail polish. I have done marbling before, but I never thought of using nail polish and it worked really well. You can see the before and after pictures of our eggs below.
And then we hung them on the Osterstrauss, along with some decorative Easter eggs that we had bought as well. At the time I thought it would be nice to make a few decorated ones each year and gradually replace the bought ones. Last year we did six and that was enough. Blowing eggs is somewhat exhausting. I wouldn’t want to be doing too many at one time.
However, this year, with all the disruption and madness of covid 19 we didn’t get around to decorating any new eggs but Dan was given the job of decorating the Osterstrauss with the eggs from last year. Sadly we lost one of the six eggs we did last year. Seems they don’t really like being accidentally dropped on the floor!
This Easter might feel a little strange but perhaps it will give us time to reflect on what is really important and on what Easter means for us. I don’t think there is any one perfect way of celebrating Easter or Christmas or any other festival or celebration. Every family has their own way of celebrating, either with timeworn traditions handed down through the ages or with brand new ones they adopt or create or a blend of the two.
However you celebrate, I wish you a happy Easter.