Saturday, April 15, 2017

Eastertide brings renewal and hope.....

Chipping Sparrow eggs in my front hedge.
Photo copyright - Margaret Buffie

Easter celebrates the coming of spring, of renewal, of change and of hope. We need all of those now!

Like most of our ancient traditions, many of the symbols of Easter lie in pagan celebrations.

Rabbits, for instance, come from the pagan festival of Eostre,
 which celebrated a German goddess -  Ostara (Eostre) - 
 the goddess of birth, fertility and spring. Her symbol was a hare or rabbit.  

The exchange of eggs is also an ancient pagan custom, celebrated by many cultures. And eggs are also symbolic renewal, fertility and hope.

According to the English monk Bede, the former pagans in England called April, or the month marking Jesus’s resurrection, “Ēosturmōnaþ” — Old English for the “Month of Ēostre.”

In the Old Testament, the Israelites baked sweet buns for their favourite idols, and of course, the early christian leaders were angered by sacred cakes being baked at Eostre. In the end, realizing they could not stop the cooks who refused to listen to them, they gave up and blessed the cakes instead. Later this tradition was transformed into a variety of acceptable "Christian" bread forms - having a cross marked on each cake or loaf of bread. 

As my mother was English, and attended Sparling United Church in the West End, she always made hot cross buns. But as an adult, I also began to make Easter bread - Paska - to celebrate the German half of my familyBoth recipes use a lot of eggs. 

My Easter Baking
My hot cross buns
Photo © Margaret Buffie

Making the sponge for Paska Bread
Photo © Margaret Buffie

My Paska Loaves
Photo © Margaret Buffie


I didn't know the history of the colouring of eggs so I looked it up. This is part of what Wikipedia says:

Easter eggs, also called Paschal eggs, are decorated eggs that are usually used as gifts on the occasion of Easter of springtime celebration. As such, Easter eggs are common during the season of Eastertide (Easter season). The oldest tradition is to use dyed and painted chicken eggs, but a modern custom is to substitute chocolate eggs wrapped in colourful foil, or plastic eggs filled with confectionary such as chocolate. Although eggs, in general, were a traditional symbol of fertility and rebirth, in Christianity, for the celebration of Eastertide, Easter eggs symbolize the empty tomb of Jesus, from which Jesus resurrected. In addition, one ancient tradition was the staining of Easter eggs with the colour red "in memory of the blood shed at the time of his crucifixion.This custom of the Easter egg can be traced to early Christians of Mesopatamia, and from there it spread into Russia and Siberia through the Orthodox Churches, and later into Europe through the Catholic and Protestant Churches. This Christian use of eggs may have been influenced by practices in "pre-dynastic period in Egypt, as well as amid the early cultures of Mesopotamia and Crete".

My family has coloured Easter eggs for as long as I can remember. Simple plain colours.When I was a child, our parents would hide the hardboiled red, blue, yellow, purple and green eggs all around the house and we would search for them. one basket for each of us was also hidden and filled with a variety of candy and usually one large rabbit from our local chocolatier, Mordens Candies. Bliss.

Online photo. Photographer unknown.

As  I grew older I experimented with the simple colours. When I had a family of my own - and as an artist - I tried different ideas for fun. Here are a few  results....

Design and photo © Margaret Buffie

Design and photo © Margaret Buffie

                                                    Design and photo © Margaret Buffie

Design and photo © Margaret Buffie

2017 Eggs

Design and photo © Margaret Buffie



Melodye said...

Hoppy Easter and happy springtime, dear Margaret. Thanks for the beautiful post.

(Mmmmm, I'd love to have a slice of that bread right now. Is it sweet?)

Margaret Buffie said...

Happy Easter, Melodye! The paska bread is a very tender loaf with a lovely crust. Because it has so many eggs, it Is a soft yellow colour - and as I use an old friend's traditional recipe it has a delicate saffron taste. Some people put lemon zest in instead of saffron, but I love the saffron as does my family. Unusual flavour but very traditional. Mind you I also add a bit of lemon zest! And golden raisins. It A a sweeter dough but makes amazing toast!

Jane B said...

Hi, Margaret. I make hot cross buns, but not paska. It looks great! Love your eggs! Must try to be more adventurous, too. 🙃