Monday, March 17, 2008

Eastertide Tidings

I've been working hard on thinking and typing through some things very close to my heart right now. But I find it very exhausting work! I am cranky and frustrated with my lack of verbal dexterity (is that even the right word?). I think partly I am just hungry. Anyway, what you get in the meantime is a cut and paste post. I have been storing this in my inbox for two years, which means it is very noteworthy as I can't stand having things pile up in my inbox! It is from a Veritas Press newsletter I subscribe to. For those who don't know, Veritas Press is a classical Christian education resource (I guess that's how you would say that; again, I am not so good with the words today!), or where I ordered the stuff I used when I home schooled Amabel. This excerpt was really interesting to me; it is a little about the history of Easter Eggs.

My parents thought that pretty much everything except Bible verses and church services distracted from the real meaning of holidays. I know there are many out there with these feelings, but as someone who was raised without the "secular" aspects of holidays, I tend to be a little more in favor of just doing things because they are fun with the idea that they add tradition and richness to our everyday lives even if they are not out and out saying "Jesus is the reason for the season." I can't even type that, cranky as I am, without snickering. That was what our Christmas stockings had on them when we were kids. There is always so much to say about all of this, and I would love to hear what y'all think about these types of traditions. This is a little of what Gregg Strawbridge, a pastor of a Presbyterian church in Pennsylvania, had to say about Easter Eggs:

There are many Christian legends which place eggs in Easter. The Poles have quite a few legends about it. One Polish legend concerns Mary, the Theotokos (God-bearer). It tells of a time Mary gave eggs to the soldiers at the cross. She entreated them to be less cruel and she wept. The tears of Mary fell upon the eggs, spotting them with dots of brilliant color. Another legend tells of when Mary Magdalen went to the sepulchre to anoint the body of Jesus. She had with her a basket of eggs to serve as a repast. When she arrived at the sepulchre and uncovered the eggs, lo, the pure white shells had miraculously taken on a rainbow of colors. Another says that on the first Good Friday a man was taking a basket of eggs to market to sell. On the way he put the basket down and ran to help Christ carry the cross. When he returned, the eggs were supposedly decorated in beautiful colors and designs. Hence, the Easter Egg basket. We find that all other Eastern Europeans, Czechs, Romanians and Ukrainians followed these traditions. Now let us rejoice that our faith does not rest in the veracity of these legends.

Whether such legends have any truth is difficult to determine but it is certainly the case that Easter Eggs have a long and venerable history in Christendom. It is, I think, quite surprising to find that Easter Eggs were customary in the East and the West and in Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Protestant traditions.

We know, for example, that decorating and coloring eggs for Easter was the custom in England during the Middle Ages. There is an historical document from the household accounts of Edward I for the year 1290 which recorded an expenditure of eighteen pence for four hundred and fifty eggs to be gold-leafed and colored for Easter gifts.

Further, in the Russian Orthodox tradition we have those most famous of Easter Eggs made by the well-known goldsmith, Peter Carl Fabergé. In 1883 the Russian Czar, Alexander, commissioned Fabergé to make a special Easter gift for his wife, the Empress Marie. The first Fabergé egg was an egg within an egg. It had an outside shell of platinum and enameled white which opened to reveal a smaller gold egg. The smaller egg, in turn, opened to display a golden chicken and a jeweled replica of the Imperial crown. The Czar ordered the Fabergé firm to design many more eggs to be delivered every Easter. In later years Nicholas II, Alexander's son, continued the custom. Fifty-seven eggs were made in all. Fabergé’s creations were ingenious, ranging from large clocks in ovoid shapes to elaborately decorated eggs embedded with jewels, displaying the wealth of the Russian Czars.

He also mentions that eggs were traditionally abstained from during Lent so that eggs were a gift often given on Easter and egg dishes were common on Easter menus. He also has some interesting connections to the Spring Equinox, which reminds me to put this up as well. This being something I found on Wikipedia that helps us understand exactly why Easter is so dang early this year, even though we have all been told and forgotten at least three times before. "Easter is the first Sunday after the first fourteenth day of the moon (the Paschal Full Moon) that is on or after March 21 (the ecclesiastical spring, or vernal, equinox)." I think this more or less means that we have a full moon on Vernal Equinox this year, which also happens to be on a Friday, and so we get Easter the next Sunday, two days later, March 23rd. Good news for fellow smockers: next year it won't be until April 12th. So do y'all dye eggs and hide them? I have to say I always go plastic! I think this year (or maybe next year) we'll have to try hollowing them out and dying them. Martha had a neat little tool for getting the whites and yolks out the other day. I am just afraid we'd break more than we wouldn't. And I can't really think what I'd do with that many hard boiled eggs. Anyway, what fun traditions do y'all have?


the skocelai said...

hey abby! we are just getting started with traditions since emory is just now old enough to enjoy the festivities. but, we will be dyeing eggs and hiding them on Easter. I am making a big meal and we are inviting friends over to share with us. We are all getting a new item of clothing to celebrate the making old things new, and we will do an Easter basket filled with plastic eggs that contain an M&M and a present. I really struggled with the more "secular" traditions too since I was raised in a home where the thinking was similar to what you experienced. I found freedom this year through a post on Nancy Wilson's blog. Check out her link on my blog,

Hope you enjoy your celebrations!

Fittsy said...

This year I've tried to tie all the secular traditions to the idea that we do them in celebration of Jesus' resurrection. (My babies are almost 2 and 4 months.) Yesterday, Libby's aunt brought her some peeps, which she's had a few of at home. When asked what they were, Libby responded, "For Easter; Jesus rose from the dead!!"
Well, I guess she's getting the idea.

This year is the first of our traditions, but here they are so far:
dyed eggs and a hunt
basket with goodies and candy
homemade dresses
ham, scallopped potatoes and asparagus for dinner
easter candles and eggs for table decorations
egg salad for lunch

Next year I hope to invite others for our egg hunt and add a good dessert to our dinner - which was delicious.


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