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Memories and Musings

By Cheri Sims
It is only three weeks until Easter and I just can’t believe how quickly the first three months of 2022 have passed. I have decorated my pink Easter tree, which sits on a kitchen cabinet top and can be seen from most of the other rooms in the house. I bought the pink tree a few years ago after having seen a decorated Easter tree in a Christmas shop the year before while on Vacation. The shop had the best layout of seasonal decorations I have ever seen; individual rooms designated for most all holidays we celebrate with decorations and some I had never thought of buying for displays for the home. Even though it was a July 4th vacation we would always visit Christmas stores and in this one I was most impressed with the Easter room. The owners had taken a small live Colorado Spruce tree, flocked it pink and decorated it with beautiful Easter egg ornaments, colorful grass, small plush bunnies and tiny hanging carrot ornaments. I decided right then that we should have an Easter tree in our home.

At that time, I had not purchased an Easter egg ornament; while I did have other Easter decorations I had not conceived of an actual Easter tree. I had decorated many Easter window displays while in retail and had devised ways to hang egg shapes in the windows but I had not placed them on an actual egg tree. One year Hubby had made a huge Easter basket out of wood for a window display and I had hung plastic eggs on the basket handle and around the sides of the basket but when I saw this beautifully crafted Easter tree I knew this was something I had to try. While at the store I purchased six egg ornaments and a package of the carrot ornaments. Hubby was stunned when he discovered how much money I had spent on glass and ceramic eggs. “Like you don’t have enough Christmas ornaments?”, he asked as I returned to the car. When he looked into the bag and saw eggs he was quite speechless for a while.

During the Christmas season, that year, pastel Christmas trees were the vogue but the prices of said trees were not in my wheelhouse; while I do splurge on Christmas decorations, an Easter tree was a bit of an extravagance and a totally unnecessary purchase. After Christmas I bought my lighted pink tree at a much reduced price and was quite happy that I had found one on sale. Believe me when I say that I had a hard time waiting for Easter to arrive next year. Hubby was not to receptive of the Easter tree idea, he actually said it was pretty stupid idea although he had seemed a bit impressed while in the Christmas store, I think he was worried that I might not be able to execute the idea as well as what we had seen but to my pleasure after the tree was decorated and the lights turned on he seemed to soften a bit to the idea. Yes, some might think it is a bit gaudy but I think it is beautiful and now five years later it is filled with ornaments, which I treasure; ornaments that we both purchased on our trips and are a wonderful reminder of the fun Hubby and I had on those trips, discussing the what egg design we would like to buy next. Hubby actually went so far as to purchase a beautiful egg ornament as a Christmas gift one year and when I opened it I knew he had ceased thinking it was a dumb idea.

The summer I was sixteen I started my first part time job at Goldblatt’s department store in Decatur and at that time all my girlfriends were buying hope chests with their paychecks or receiving them as gifts. I did not actually have a hope chest but I did start buying items for a chest. During my breaks at my job we girls would go shopping and one of my first purchases was two stuffed foot tall bunny rabbits. I can’t fully explain why I thought a pink bunny and a blue bunny, to be used as an Easter display, was a good choice for a hope chest but at time I don’t think I really understood what we were hoping for. I named the bunnies David and Lisa; David was named after a stock boy I had just noticed and Lisa was named after my favorite actress on “As the World Turns”; real adult decisions, wouldn’t you agree? David and Lisa have been the center of my Easter displays for fifty-nine years and they look as pretty as they did the day I found them. I would just about bet that none of my girlfriends have saved anything that they bought for their hope chests. I also have a sweet little gold ceramic duck with a bobble head on a spring which I was given on my second Easter; that duck is 73 years old and I treat it like gold.

Strangely enough, the pastel colors used in Easter decorations have a deeper meaning than one may realize. To the retail decorators they mean the colors of spring and one rarely sees deep reds, greens or blues but the one vibrant color is purple. The web site “Celebrating the Holidays” (https://www.celebratingholidays.com/?page_id=2781) has a nice explanation of why certain colors are used at the individual holidays. “In ancient times, purple was considered a precious dye. Because it was so costly to make, it came to be associated with kings and royalty making it especially intriguing that the Roman soldiers placed a purple robe on Christ before his crucifixion: Purple: The color most commonly associated with the Easter season (or more specifically the season of Lent that precedes Easter Day) is purple. It is the color found in church sanctuaries throughout the world during the season”. The site also state, White and Gold  areThe Colors of Easter Day and Pastels areThe Colors of Spring”.

Here are a couple historical facts you may not know:

“In 1916, in St. Petersburg, Russia, goldsmith Peter Carl Faberge was overseeing the production of two opulent, decorative eggs. The objects were destined to be the royal Easter gifts presented to Empress Maria Feodorovna and Tsarina Alexandra Feodorovna in April of 1917. But the imperial women would never see those eggs, nor would Fabergé see them finished”. (artsy.com) I have always been in awe of the beauty of these eggs and one year Hubby purchased a very inexpensive rendition of a faberge egg, which I treasure and treat like it is the real thing.

The Egg as a Symbol in History

The ancient Egyptians, Persians, Phoenicians, and Hindus all believed the world began with an enormous egg, thus the egg as a symbol of new life has been around for eons. The particulars may vary, but most cultures around the world use the egg as a symbol of new life and rebirth.

The Egg as a Symbol of Easter

From a Christian perspective, the egg represents the resurrection of Jesus. The first book to mention Easter eggs by name was written 500 years ago. Yet, a North African tribe that had become Christian much earlier had a custom of coloring eggs at Easter. Long hard winters often meant little food, and a fresh egg for Easter was quite a prize. A notation in the household accounts of Edward I of England showed an expenditure of eighteen pence for 450 eggs to be gold-leafed and colored for Easter gifts. 

The Tradition of Decorating Eggs

The practice of painting eggs goes back to ancient times when decorated shells were part of the rituals of spring. Instead of chicken eggs, however, ostrich eggs were used. The first Christians to adopt this tradition were from Mesopotamia, and they colored their eggs red, in memory of the blood of Christ. (https://www.learnreligions.com/)

Naturally I enjoy making Easter goodies and I will share one of our favorite Easter recipes. Hubby’s Grandmother was of Canadian Indian heritage and one of her favorite recipes for Easter was cranberry cookies. Sadly I do not have her recipe but a few years ago I found this recipe and made the cookies for Easter. Her daughters were quite pleased with the outcome and these cookies remained on our Easter table for years.

Canadian Maple Cranberry Cookies

Ingredients

* 1 cup butter, softened

* 1 cup granulated maple 

sugar

* 2 teaspoons of maple 

syrup

* 3 tablespoons honey

* 3 eggs

* 3 1/4 cups flour

* 1 1/2 teaspoons baking 

powder

* 1 cup dried cranberries, 

chopped

Preparation

1. Preheat the oven to 180 °c (350°f). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Cream the butter using an electric mixer. Gradually add the maple sugar, maple syrup, honey and egg until completely incorporated.

3. In a separate bowl, sift the flour and baking powder together. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and stir just until combined. Fold in the cranberries.

4. Scoop tablespoon portions of the dough onto the cookie sheets leaving enough room between them for expanding. Gently press down on the cookies using a spatula to flatter slightly.

5. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool slightly on the cookie sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

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