Heidi Trautmann

Heidi Trautmann Column 61 - Let's talk about culture and....Easter Eggs

Happy Easter to my readers.

For many Christians it is the biggest religious feast, for all happy memories for the days when they are older and have raised children themselves; these memories will stay forever and are passed on. I have told my children and grandchildren with much pleasure of the preparations we children did for these days and of the pure bliss on Easter Sunday when the sinister days with all its stories were over. Did you know that the term Easter or in German Ostern has developed from the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eostre and that in non-English speaking countries the feast is referred to as Pascha Feast, the Passover? You know how you wish Happy Easter in other languages? Afrikaans: Geseende Paasfees! In Danish: God Paske; in Dutch: Vrolijk Pasen; in French: Joyeuses Paques; Portuguese: Boas Pascuas; in Greek: Kalo Pasha; in Hawaian; Hau oli Pakoa; in Italian: Buona Pasqua; in Latin: Prospera Pascha sit; in Zulu: IPhasika elijabulayo; and in Turkish: Paskalya bayramınız kutlu olsun.


In most of the traditional Easter meals we find lamb included as the image of sacrifice and eggs as the symbol of life. The days of my childhood are very vivid in my mind; at our house Easter coincided with spring cleaning and we kids had to help the maid but we did it with full excitement as the smell of floor wax mingled with the smell of the easter plait or bagels, and the scent of fresh green twigs distributed to all vases around the house for Green Thursday made it all very festive. On Good Friday we usually had a bad thunderstorm with hail and everything and we kids watched the godly anger coming through the clouds from a secure place.  Finally on Saturday we tried to catch a glimpse of the parents dyeing or painting the eggs and preparing the nests for the Easter Bunny, of which our mum still thought we would believe in. Early the next morning, we watched from behind the curtains the grownups steal out into the garden and hide all the coloured eggs and chocolates. I remember Easter Sundays only in full sunlight, with flowers in the meadows, the young birds twittering in their nests and our stockings rolled down for the first time in the year. One of my sons who will come and visit us this year for Easter told me on the phone, Mom, don’t you dare thinking that I am too old to look for our Easter eggs in the garden (he is 44 years old).

So many traditions have survived in other countries, I observed them during our sailing life in many villages, such as burning a puppet made of old clothes from each household to symbolically burn Judas Ischariot; in some places people throw ceramics out of the window to throw away evil. In Cyprus they light big fires and also burn dolls. But all of them have in common the decorating of eggs, where the colour red dominates in many countries. Most beautiful traditional designs have developed and are famous; I have also hand-painted empty ones which I have kept for many years and hang up in fresh branches each Easter.

There is a rather rude tradition in Eastern Europe, that is the spanking and whipping of women to keep them busy, fresh and beautiful; can you believe it? But it is apparently not hurtful as women thank the men by giving them some money and an egg as a thank you.

They also say that the church bells are silent for two days before Easter because they fly down to Rome to bring back Easter eggs and chocolate which are then dropped in the gardens for the children.

It is often healthy to forget some memories but it is heart refreshing to have the ones like Easter memories. May they be happy ones for you.









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