Today’s array of Easter goodies just boggles my mind. Who would want all that junk? From themed clothing, to masses of stuffed animals, on to fully loaded and cellophane-wrapped baskets, the sales start right after the St. Patrick’s Day green stuff is pulled off the shelves. Again, the ka-ching of profit rears its ugly head. Nothing’s new there; it’s just on a larger scale. But I can calm myself in the midst of all the commercialism by remembering the Easters of my childhood.I’ve always loved Easter. Sometimes it came around when there was snow on the ground, but usually it was in the warmth of spring. My sister and I loved shopping for our new Easter outfits, especially the hats. While the coming holiday meant the small sacrifices of Lent – not too burdensome for most of us kids – we could also look forward to Easter baskets.
I know that many kids’ parents did up the whole Easter basket, compete with hard boiled eggs. Maybe they wanted to have all the fun, but it certainly can be a big mess. At our house, Mom would hard boil the eggs then sit us down at the newspaper-covered kitchen table with crayons, wire dippers, and coffee cups filled with hot water and a touch of vinegar. We dropped in the color tablets, let them dissolve and then went to work. We’d make crayoned designs on the eggs and dip them in our favorite colors. Sometimes we dunked each end in a different color to get a third color band in the middle. Sometimes we messed up and dunked the whole egg several times, and those were usually nasty looking. But we did have fun. Of course we always wrote our own name on at least one egg. We tried to make our own eggs identifiable so that later on we wouldn’t eat one of the other’s eggs by mistake – that would have been ‘gross and disgusting’.
On the Paas Easter egg dye website I learned that they go back 125 years, and that coloring eggs goes back to the Persians of 3000 BCE. I do remember our Greek neighbors cooking goose eggs and dying them with red onion skins for Greek Orthodox Easter. Then they polished them with some bacon grease for a beautiful display. It was neat to have two Easters while we lived in that neighborhood: lots of wonderful and different foods. I vaguely remember the bread and a good soup, and other delectable things on the table.
But back to the baskets. The Easter Bunny is like Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy: even when you become one of those characters for your own family you still cherish a bit of their magic in your own heart. On Easter morning most of our eggs found their way into our baskets, and the Easter Bunny had made a visit. On a bed of shredded, soft, always green waxed paper, there might be a chocolate lamb and several chocolate-covered, egg-shape marshmallows, and in the best of times there was big sugar panorama egg.Even in the slimmest of times though, we always found a chocolate bunny in our baskets. There is an official ritual for chocolate bunnies: you must eat the ears first. Yes, it’s true, trust me. I’m sure it’s all because they are the handiest part to shove in your mouth. Next comes the tail. It’s just has to be that way. The rest gets broken up and eaten willy-nilly, but stretched out over as many days as possible before Mom says “enough is enough,” and puts the baskets away until next year.