Of all the celebrated religious days of the year, Easter is one of the most joyous. In addition to the deep religious beliefs, the spring time observance has taken on many forms in different parts of the world, as people have created their own customs over the span of time.
Some research revealed that the name Easter derives from Eostre, an ancient Teutonic goddess of spring. In other countries, France for example, Easter is called "Paques," derived from "pasch," which means "he passes over," and alludes to the Jewish Passover.
As Christmas has been identified with the winter solstice during the early developing years of the church, so Easter was celebrated in the spring, calling to mind natures rebirth.
The Council of Christian Churches decided that Easter should be on the first Sunday following the Paschal full moon. The pilgrims traveling to the yearly Easter festival relied on the light of the full moon to safely reach their destination.
The egg has been symbolic of Easter in many countries across the world since ancient times. The egg represented the spring season and the revival of the fertility of the earth. It was considered a most fitting emblem for the spring season.
Following a long cold winter, there was a longing for the colorful flowers of spring. That would explain the custom of coloring Easter eggs in bright colors.
The symbolic Easter egg has been used in several ways - egg rolling, egg hunting and many others. A very elaborate custom involving the egg was initiated by the White Russians. They would decorate the Easter eggs and give them as presents. In the latter 19th century this practice changed from real eggs to delicately made eggs of great value. Many were made of pure gold and embellished with precious jewels.
The beloved Easter Bunny is of German origin. The rabbit is a symbol of prolific reproduction of life - and not that he is suppose to lay eggs.
There are many customs in many lands, but whatever the tradition, and whatever the date, the one time meaning of Easter is the risen Christ. The religious significance of this event is what Easter is really about - not the eggs, rabbits, flowers, candy, egg hunts or ham dinners. These symbols and activities are just some of the benefits we have chosen for ourselves. It's another way of celebrating a very special day.
Printed quite a few years ago, this recipe bears repeating
WONDERFUL MUSTARD SAUCE
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar
3 egg yolks (well beaten)
1/2 cup tomato soup (undiluted)
1/2 cup prepared mustard (mild yellow)
1/3 cup cider vinegar
In the top part of a double boiler cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the beaten egg yolks, then the soup, mustard and vinegar. Cook over hot water, stirring frequently, until it is smooth and fairly thick. When cool, transfer to a pint jar. Refrigerate. Serve with ham. Equally delicious with any cold meat.
My brother, Rod, shares this delicious recipe
PARMESAN BAKED POTATOES
6 T. butter, melted
3 T. grated Parmesan cheese
8 med. unpeeled red potatoes (about 2-3/4 lbs.)
Pour butter into a 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese evenly over butter. Cut each potato in half lengthwise and place cut side down over cheese. Bake uncovered, at 400 for 40-45 min. or until tender.
Notes: For easy cleanup, line pan with heavy duty foil. I also spray foil with no stick cooking spray. Cooking for only two or three? This recipe is easy to downsize.
May be served as a dessert
SUE'S BLUEBERRY SALAD
2 (3 oz.) pkgs raspberry flavored jello
2 cups hot water
1 (20 oz.) can crushed pineapple, drained
1 (21 oz) can blueberry pie filling
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Combine gelatin and hot water; stir until dissolved. Stir in pineapple and pie filling. Pour into a 9x13-in. dish and chill until firm. Cream together cream cheese and sugar. Beat in sour cream and vanilla. Spread over firm gelatin. Chill until serving.
Notes: My daughter uses sugar free/fat free gelatin. Sue served this salad with a pretzel topping. All you do is combine 1 cup coarsely chopped pretzels with 1/2 cup melted butter or margarine, and 1/2 cup sugar. Press this mixture into a greased 9x13-inch pan (baking sheet) Bake at 400 for 7 min. Cool. Break into small pieces. Sprinkle over top of salad before serving.
Wishing you all the little delights of Easter.