When I was a child, Easter was celebrated with new head gear and chocolate eggs. On Easter Sunday morning, breakfast was scrambled eggs and warm, buttery hot-cross buns. If a breeze came us as we walked to church, my mother and I would clamp our new Easter hats tight to our heads. Mine was usually white straw, while my mother’s was an elegant confection of woven raffia and silk. My dad and brother weren’t so lucky. No new Easter bonnets for them. But they were starched and polished and we all made a fine sight together.
Church provided a roller coaster of emotions. The story of Jesus on the cross never failed to terrify and sadden my brother and I, but the joy we felt when he rose from the dead was like a blazing shaft of sunlight. After the service, we raced each other home in anticipation of the best part of that sacred day – the Easter Egg Hunt! My mother always bought Laura Secord chocolate eggs wrapped in shiny, rainbow-coloured foil. Her hiding techniques were legendary and even she couldn’t remember where they all were tucked. Months later chocolate eggs would be discovered nestled on bookshelves or windowsills, stale and melted. We loved this ritual so much my brother and I demanded it go on long after we were adults.
Many Easter symbols have roots in ancient history. Before Christianity, eggs were a symbol of new life. For Christians, Easter eggs represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection. In Canada, many cultures honour the egg in slightly different ways. Ukrainians have a traditional craft called pysanky where patterns are drawn on egg shells with wax. As with a batik, the eggs are dyed and the wax is removed to reveal beautiful, intricate designs. The Easter Bunny, according to history.com, came from German immigrants to North America who brought with them the myth of an egg-laying hare. Parades are another time-honoured tradition and can be very religious. On Good Friday in Toronto’s Little Italy, actors depict Christ’s betrayal and crucifixion. Other parades are more secular, with floats, marching bands, candies for the crowd and a special appearance by the Easter Bunny.
At the end of the weekend, there usually is an Easter dinner. In my home this was, and still is, a significant meal. Growing up, our relatives would be invited and arrive with gifts of Easter Lilies. Other families might have ham or chicken, but we’d sit down to an immense feast of roasted leg of lamb, scalloped potatoes, asparagus, and glazed carrots. Dessert varied. Sometimes my mother prepared angel-food cake topped with rhubarb sauce and whipped cream or sometimes I would make a sugary pecan pie. These days our family carries on this tradition, whether at my home, my brother’s or my father’s. Sadly, the leader of our Easter Egg Hunt, my mother is no longer alive, but I’m sure she gets a smile when she looks down on us scrambling to find those shiny, foil covered chocolate eggs.
CHOCOLATE COVERED EASTER EGGS
Recipe courtesy Allrecipes.com
Makes 48 eggs
Along with the small eggs for hiding, larger cream-filled chocolate eggs are a popular treat. These homemade versions are a fun project for older children!
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 2 1/2 lbs. confectioners’ sugar
- 1 cup creamy peanut butter (optional)
- 1 cup flaked coconut (optional)
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate pieces
- 1 tbsp. shortening or vegetable oil (optional)
- In a large bowl, mix together the butter, vanilla, and cream cheese. Stir in confectioners’ sugar to make a workable dough. For best results, use your hands for mixing.
- Divide the dough into four parts. Leave one of the parts plain. To the second part, mix in peanut butter. Mix coconut into the third part, and cocoa powder into the last part. Roll each type of dough into egg shapes, and place on a waxed paper-lined cookie sheet. Refrigerate until hard, at least an hour.
- Melt chocolate chips in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir occasionally until smooth. If the chocolate seems too thick for coating, stir in a teaspoon of the shortening or oil until it thins to your desired consistency. Dip the chilled candy eggs in chocolate, and return to the waxed paper lined sheet to set. Refrigerate for 1/2 hour to harden.
- Should make around 48 chocolate covered eggs.