Growing up in Germany, the week leading up to Easter was full of traditions. First of all, it meant that Easter was a long holiday weekend, with all businesses closed from Good Friday through Easter Monday.
My mom usually cut pussy-willow and cherry tree branches a couple of weeks before and staged them in a large vase of water, hoping to have them in full bloom around Easter. It always was a bit of a guessing game. We would hang Easter decorations in the branches: small wooden Easter bunnies and colored egg shells, tied with colorful ribbons. Each year we would blow out eggs instead of breaking them to collect an ample supply of the shells to die them around Easter. Coloring egg shells was a regular activity during our spring vacation. I always thought our Easter bouquet was magnificent.
The Thursday before Easter is called ‘Green Thursday’ and traditionally everyone made green food with the first sprouts of the garden. My mother has been nontraditional in many ways and for her it included the first sprigs of nettle, dandelion and other ‘weeds’ (that are totally hip nowadays) besides the traditional spinach and Lamb’s lettuce. She made a fresh green sauce – I will tell you more about it in my next newsletter – and we served it over fresh hard boiled eggs and potatoes. To this day I love this dish.
Living in a catholic stronghold of the country, Good Friday was a meatless day and dancing was prohibited until midnight (no joke). Saturday was filled with the preparation of the Easter Sunday. For us kids it meant cooking and coloring eggs. We wrapped the eggs with violet flowers and onion peels and cooked them in boiling water. The unwrapping and discovery of our art was always exhilarating. My mother prepared a sweet yeast dough for Easter breakfast and always made plenty so that each of us five kids got an extra piece of the dough. We separated it in three parts which we rolled in long strips to make a braid that we connected to a circle. Then we set one of our colored eggs in the middle of the circle and brushed the dough with a whipped egg yolk. My mother then baked the "Egg Nests" with the sweet Easter bread (Hefezopf) in the oven. It was hard to wait till Sunday morning to taste this treat. For a kid, there is nothing better than your individual little sweet bread with a colored egg in the middle.
The evening before Easter Sunday I liked to set the table for. I took out the good dishes, hoping not to break any, and put the large porcelain coffee can in the middle. I made sure to set out the egg cups – we kids had special clay ones in the form of a small chick. We also had colorful egg warmers, to put on our soft boiled egg in the morning – so much fun. Then I went across our country road to the edge of the forest to pick the first butter-yellow flowers of the year - Sumpfdotterblumen. In my opinion, they made the best bouquets for an Easter table.
On Sunday we all went to church, which was decorated lavishly for spring. Back at home, depending on the weather the Easter egg hunt was either inside or outside and we always ended up with lots of hard boiled colored eggs, a chocolate Easter bunny and fluffy little chicks and bunnies that were just adorable. This long weekend allowed for time to celebrate spring and tradition in a very special way.
Living in the US, we have incorporated many of these traditions into our family. We love the craft of coloring eggs together, yet by now we do not eat too many boiled eggs nor a lot of candy anymore. So this year I thought to share with you a colorful alternative that lets you be creative and celebrate sweet spring renewal with a twist.
I hope that you will enjoy and celebrate this week leading up to Easter with your own traditions and maybe incorporate some new ones that you feel strongly about.
We here at Kettle Care Organics wish you a Happy Easter and time to reflect on what is important to you during these days of renewal. Thank you for your support in our mission to make skin care as natural as possible.
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