Monday, April 10, 2006



Monday Memories

Did I ever tell you about our Easter egg tradition?
It's dead. This year I bought phony Easter eggs. Well, as phony as imitation colored eggs delivered by a rabbit could be. Turquoise, white, brown, pink and all plastic. I've arranged them in a little painted wooden wheelbarrow made by someone in China who was probably wondering what strange American custom required such a small garden implement. I didn't notice until I took them out of the package--a cute little fake wooden crate with make believe straw--that they had plastic strings so I could hang them on a bush or tree. Bunnies and eggs are pagan symbols that the Christian church absorbed years ago from some Germanic tribes who wanted to keep their own traditions of the Spring equinox. Easter bushes and trees, however, I'm sure were the invention of an American entrepreneur. But the little bunnies and eggs are sort of cute and a sure sign of Spring even if they have no spiritual meaning.



These days I have no one for whom to make an Easter basket. And even when my son's step-daughter was a part of our family, I can't remember if she ever colored eggs at our house. We probably just put candy and presents in a basket. Counting us, the poor little girl had eleven grandparents, so we really weren't needed for her holiday traditions, but she made ours more fun.

When my husband and I were children we always colored eggs for Easter on Saturday. In the kitchen. With lots of newspapers on the table. The dye came in little tablets sealed in cellophane in a cardboard package that cost about 39 cents. The package included cut-outs for ears and collars, little transfers for faces or scenes to put on a colored egg, and a wax white crayon for designing our own scheme. Our mothers would boil the eggs gently so there wouldn't be cracks. Then they poured hot water in a coffee cup with some vinegar and dropped in the tablets and gave us teaspoons so we could ease the hard cooked egg into the cup while stirring gently. At least that was the plan. We were soon moving the eggs from cup to cup, maybe getting a lovely purple going from blue to red, or violet going red to blue, or ending up with a hopeless dull gray from too many trips to and dips in a different cup. There was also a small wire loop to dip the egg half in one color and half in another. We'd apply the little transfers when the egg was dry so we'd have bunnies, or chickens with eyes, noses, or beaks. Then we'd add hats or collars.

At my home, we never got candy or chocolate that I can remember, but my husband's relatives did give the children jelly beans and chocolates. Early Sunday morning, our mothers would hide the eggs in the house and we'd search for them before going to church (often with new shoes or hat or gloves because people dressed up in the old days to worship God and left their faded jeans and torn t-shirts in the basement or garage). I'm not sure we even had baskets to gather the eggs (my husband did, he says), but the eggs could be found under couch cushions or in the drawers with the table linen, or inside the piano bench.

When my children were little, we had a very similar routine of coloring eggs and hiding them. One year we couldn't find one until weeks later when it started to smell--it was hidden in the bathroom under the plumber's helper. As they got older, I think we added some foil wrapped candy and bought baskets with pink and green fake grass. In 1973 we hid the eggs outside because my sister's family was visiting so we had 4 additional children coloring eggs. Another year when they were about 5 or 6 we took them to the "community egg roll." Ours is an affluent, suburban community, so our family was horrified to see hundreds of children swarming and screaming and beating on each other like they were starving in a mad scramble to grab the most foil covered candy eggs. My son came back to me crying because one little boy had snatched away from him the only egg he was able to find. We never went to another egg hunt and continued with our own little homegrown celebration that we had learned from our mothers back in the 40s.

Easter egg hunt 1973 in the apple blossoms


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10 comments:

Joan said...

Wow, that stimulates the memories! I have been so out of the loop for the last week I haven't written a MM this week. Maybe I'll have time to do it later in the day -- after a little sleep!

Lazy Daisy said...

I totally had similiar experiences with Easter in the past. My mom would blow the egg portion out before coloring them. (That way if we didn't find them all they never smelled!) My Monday Memories is on encouraging my child to read. You'll like it!

Katherine said...

That really brings back memories! I remember dying eggs on newspaper, too, and using that little wire basket! Such fun. We would never hide the "real" eggs though, only the plastic ones. I got a laugh over the egg you couldn't find until it smelled. oops!

Jen said...

We stay away from the big community egg hunts, too!

I like your Easter traditions, they sound a lot like ours growing up.

My MM is up!

Libragirl said...

I have no Easter memories but I bet I have really good Passover Memories.

The fun of being Jewish.

Happy Easter. Hopefully I'll be back full time around then.

Mama Kelly said...

as we were both raised Christian, hubby and I celebrate Easter with the kids more as a celebration of Spring

but we do hide those eggs, we count them first though to avoid the smelly surprise

purple_kangaroo said...

I love the photo.

Just D said...

This year we are blowing the egg out and coloring the shells which will just be decorations. We'll hide plastic eggs filled with candy and coins. The egg innards will go into a cake or muffins or omelets for breakfast! We've done so many different things that there is no one constant except that we dress up and go worship at church no. matter. what.

Norma said...

D: You're dressing up for church? What a concept. Could start a trend.

Lynda said...

What a great memory. I reminds me of when my mom and I use to color eggs. Sometimes they came with a wax crayon so I could even draw designs or write messages.

Thanks for visiting my MM.